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How to Agree to Disagree

Someone once said,

To live above, with saints we love
Will certainly be glory.
To live below, with saints we know
Well, that’s another story!

This little poem reminds us of how difficult it can be to live with good people. Every day you encounter many different kinds of people. Some are very delightful, some are very difficult, some of them are inspiring, some of them are irritating and intimidating.

In the Bible, we have many examples of God’s people disagreeing. Through these examples we can learn some important principles that will help us when we disagree with our spouse, children, friends and even politicians. One of the marks of maturity is the ability to disagree without becoming disagreeable.

The first principle we learn about, how to agree to disagree is to remember even good people with good hearts and intentions will sometimes disagree. As a result of our unique personalities, perspectives and preferences, we will not all see eye to eye. That’s ok! If everybody was like me, then the world would be pretty dull. Thankfully, God has not created us all alike and there is variety in this world. It would be boring if we all liked vanilla ice cream. We need to appreciate the unique qualities in each of us, even if we disagree.

The second principle we learn about, how to agree to disagree, is to realize in many disagreements, each side has a legitimate point to make. It is pretty arrogant to think that you are always right and never wrong. The best way to approach a disagreement is to try to see from the other person’s perspective. Sometimes the lenses we look through determine what we see as reality.

The third principle we learn about, how to agree to disagree, is that we need to refuse to assassinate people’s character just because we disagree with them. The Bible says in James 3:17 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable …” No problem has ever been resolved by attacking the person. We need to focus on the problem, not the person. In addition, realize that just because someone disagrees with your viewpoint does not make them the enemy or evil. Respect those you disagree with.

The fourth principle we learn about, how to agree to disagree, is to resist becoming bitter in your attitude and spirit towards those you disagree with. Bitterness hurts you, not the person you disagree with. If we embrace a life of bitterness and revenge, we lose. Bitterness can be lethal. Let go of anger or it will destroy you. If you hold onto a lighted match long enough, it will burn you!

The final principle we learn about, how to agree to disagree, is to resolve to agree to disagree. Sometimes in a disagreement, we may have to respectfully agree to disagree. Once again that is okay. You don’t always have to agree with me to be my friend. You don’t always have to agree with me to work with me on projects or ideas to help our community.

A hundred years after the end of their legendary feud, the Hatfield's and the McCoy's recently got together for their first reunion--and they will be leaving the shotguns behind. “We are going to be on our best behavior,” said reunion chairman Bo McCoy, a Waycross, Georgia minister whose ancestors took part in the 19th century shooting war between the two families that left 12 people dead and cemented the image of Appalachia as a place full of hillbillies with guns.

Two thousand descendants are expected to attend, as well as thousands of others, including the Governors of Kentucky and West Virginia. The only confrontation this time will come during a tug of war and a softball game between the families.

If the Hatfield's and McCoy's can solve their problems, surely the Church, the community, the home can do even better.