If you are like most people, you have disagreements with your friends from time to time. In general, there’s nothing wrong with disagreements; however, some disagreements can become fights that have the power to estrange friends from one another.
Human nature often causes people to become more argumentative when they feel attacked by another. Some people go on the defensive if a friend disagrees with their viewpoints.
When two people feel strongly about their beliefs and neither is willing to back down or take each other’s thoughts into consideration, the disagreement is sure to end badly. It’s important to remember that the friendship is more valuable than being right.
The Book of Proverbs speaks in many places about how Christians are called to act toward one another. By reading the Word of God, you will find a blueprint for Christian friendship.
A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger. —Proverbs 15:1, KJV
Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and healthy to the bones. —Proverbs 16:24, KJV
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. —Proverbs 17:17, KJV
Psychologists talk about handling disagreements with loving confrontation. Although those two words don’t seem to go together very well, Christians are called to be good and true friends who lend support and hold one another up. When we put this in the context of disagreeing with one another, it’s easy to see the importance of holding friends’ opinions in high regard, listening to their thoughts and view points and communicating ours in a respectful manner.
Fights vs. Disagreements
What makes a disagreement different than a fight? Simple––there doesn’t have to be a winner in a disagreement. To disagree with a friend doesn’t necessarily mean that one of you is right and one is wrong. A disagreement only becomes a fight when you attack the other person instead of stating your point of view in a kind, respectful manner. Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements can make the disagreement feel like less of an attack.
Dragging up the past can also turn a disagreement into a fight. Being a Christian friend means letting go of resentment and turning away from any bitterness over past words and actions.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. —Ephesians 4:31-32, KJV
Disagreeing with Friends While Maintaining Christian Values
By now you might be thinking that it seems that there isn’t a way to fight with your friends and live as Christ intended you to live. Nothing good comes from a fight; however, there are right and wrong ways to disagree. Before you speak in disagreement, ask yourself if what you’re about to say is:
Most fights are born of anger, and most words spoken in anger don’t meet these three requirements.
If you disagree with a friend, ask yourself: are the words you plan to speak in which to argue your point true? If not, there’s no need to speak at all. Not only is lying to get a point across a contradiction, but it also goes against what the Lord expects of us.
Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight. —Proverbs 12:22
We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So, are the words you plan to speak kinds? Whatever your disagreement is, it’s important to convey your beliefs in a kind manner. That may mean not speaking in the heat of the moment, but waiting until afterwards to talk it out.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. —John 13:34-35 KJV
If you disagree with a friend, is it necessary to speak the words you’re about to say in retaliation? If the disagreement is over something minor, it may not be necessary to speak your opinion at all. This doesn’t mean being a doormat and letting your friends walk all over you; however, it’s important to realize that the friendship is worth more than being right or being heard.
These are the words Jesus spoke to the Apostles at the Last Supper to teach them how to interact with one another. His words are still the best guide to use in all interactions with your friends.