Holding On to Peace… When We Disagree

Have you ever experienced an overwhelming sense of peace? It may have been during a walk in nature, watching a sunset, looking at the stars, or on a vacation. What do these moments have in common? Time. We took time to slow down and tune out all of the noise around us. How long did that feeling last? Peace is hard to come by, and even harder to hold on to. To be honest, we are often the ones to blame. We tend to overfill our lives, leaving little time to appreciate what is truly important. 

Peace comes from God, but he won’t compete with the noise of life. We won’t hear God’s voice or feel his peace if we don’t make quite time with God a priority. Holding on to peace requires regular connection with God because he alone can refresh our discouraged hearts. Without a regular connection, any peace we obtain will be short lived.

The world is eager to steal our peace. Disagreements quickly devolve into conflict, and heated tempers stoke hostility. I freely admit that I have been guilty of this myself. It is beyond frustrating to have a conversation with someone who won’t listen. Frustration leads to irritation, defensiveness, and anger. Why do we feel the need to convince others that we are right? Why are we so sure our opinion is right and theirs is wrong? It really comes down to pride.

Where there is strife, there is pride,
    but wisdom is found in those who take advice.  

Proverbs 13:10

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with humility comes wisdom.   

Proverbs 11:2

It is impossible for us to maintain a feeling of peace when we are contentiously arguing with another person. When our focus is on being “right” and “winning the argument”, a disagreement quickly deteriorates into insults and personal attacks. At that point, any meaningful conversation has abruptly ended.

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
    but delight in airing their own opinions.  

Proverbs 18:2

When we discuss our different opinions with respect everone benefits. The views of others offer us an opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes. But this requires humility on both parts. Our own assumptions have to be suspended in order to truly listen. This doesn’t come naturally because we want to be heard. So for this to occur we may need to set the example and listen first. When we shift the focus to understanding, we allow these experiences to refine our own beliefs.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Proverbs 19:20

Unfortunately, not everyone shares a desire for open communication. We will never change the heart or a mind of a person that doesn’t want it to be changed. For these people, no amount of evidence will ever persuade them. It doesn’t matter if your argument is sound or if you have facts that support your position because they aren’t seeking the truth. Rather, they crave and thrive on conflict.

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
    but every fool is quick to quarrel.   

Proverbs 20:3

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
    but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.    

Proverbs 15:18

Arguing with someone who is closed-minded is merely an exercise in futility. We accomplish nothing, except a loss of peace. Instead, we should reserve controversial conversations those who share the same objective. A meaningful discussion requires respect and restraint from all involved.

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
    and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.   

Proverbs 17:27

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues
    keep themselves from calamity.   

Proverbs 21:23

We are blessed through open discussions that impart new knowledge and new perspectives. But if we want to protect our sense of peace, we have to learn how to disengage from those who seek only conflict.

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
    whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.  

Proverbs 9:7-9

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