Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
I have lived on both sides of this verse and the end results have been very different. In my younger years, I thought Christianity was all about being right. I could argue with people about theological issues for hours and I know that in the process, I hurt people. In particular, I remember, having a discussion with my younger sister where a group of us were discussing the role psychology and medication played in a Christian's life. At times, the discussion got heated and for me it was about winning and being right. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she had been a victim of rape and she was suffering under keeping this a secret from our family. In hindsight, it is quite obvious to me why she felt she had to carry this burden on her own. My heart has grieved many times over the last 8 years for the ways the spirit of religion closed the door for her to immediately come to her Christian family and receive love, acceptance and help in her time of need.
Her story has been one of the ways the Lord has slowed my tongue and opened my ears to hear, love and accept other believers. Unfortunately, it is not the only incidence of missing someone's heart in my passion to be right, but as always, I am thankful that the Lord is a teacher and a Redeemer and as we stop to listen and walk in His ways we are changed by His grace.
As I stop to look back over my past and see what has changed in me, I realize that one of the main things is understanding my security in Christ. Before, when I'd argue with people, I was arguing from a place of position that was secured in "my truth." I was sure that I was on God's side about a particular issue and for anyone to rock that boat for me caused panic. But as God settled my heart in Himself, over and over again, freaking out has become less frequent, though my husband can attest to the fact that I can still get flustered. But these moments of flustering usually come when I take my eyes of people and I am just trying to be right.
The understanding that I am secure in Christ because of He first loved me, has opened the door for me to minister to many different women. As a result, they have taken the time to be vulnerable with me and to tell their story. With each new story I hear, an increasing ferocity for protection of these precious hearts rises up in me. They don't need to be brought to the truth through argument rather they need to be treated with love, honor and respect as precious children of God. I will gladly admit that it is a whole lot harder to love than it is to argue about being right. But the most "life-change" I've ever seen has come out of the arena of love not the arena of argument.
Once again a quote from Henri Nouwen puts the words I am fighting for in this post into beautiful succinctness:
In solitude we can listen to the voice of Him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the results of our efforts. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It's there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received. (from Mornings with Henri Nouwen).
P.S. If you have been a victim of rape, first of all I am truly sorry. If you have never spoken out, please find a trusted friend to open up to. You can read and listen to my sister's story at that link. While she never received justice from her perpetrators, she has opened and continues to open wide the door in the political realm for victims.