How To NOT Win Someone To Your Side

Apparently, Rush Limbaugh isn’t trying to win Sandra Fluke to his side.

After she testified in support of mandatory employer health coverage of contraception before a nonofficial congressional committee Mr. Limbaugh called Ms. Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”  Can you imagine her saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry I testified. I can see now I was wrong.  Thanks for setting me straight with those tactful words.”  Ain’t gonna happen.

You can’t win someone to your side when you are in an adversarial relationship with them.

I once heard someone say you can’t win someone to your side when you’re in an adversarial relationship with them.  You won’t win someone who is pro-abortion to your side by getting in their face and yelling, “Murderer!  Baby killer!”  God tells us how to address those who oppose us:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

First of all we should not be quarrelsome.  We shouldn’t love to fight.  We shouldn’t love to get in there and argue.  Some people thrive on conflict.  Some people think they’re always right and smarter than everyone else.  It’s not enough to have the truth. God cares about how we present the truth.  He cares about our attitude when we present the truth.

Next we should be “kind to everyone.”  Everyone.  Even our enemies.  For we were once God’s enemies and he was kind to us.

We must patiently endure evil ourselves, and when we correct our opponents we must do it “with gentleness.”  Not sarcasm, insults, or inflammatory slurs.

Proverbs says a harsh word stirs up anger but a gentle answer turns away wrath (Pr 15.21).  We won’t win anyone to our side with harsh words – we’ll only make them angry and entrench them more deeply against us.  But when we correct them with gentleness, we will turn away their wrath, and that can prepare the way for God to work.

Which is where we must put our trust.  Not in our persuasiveness or superior reasoning or arguing skills but in God.  That’s why Paul tells Timothy, correct with gentleness in the hope that “God may perhaps grant them repentance…”

Christians must certainly stand for truth and speak out.  But let us address our opponents with kindness and gentleness, then trust God to do what only he can do – change their hearts.

Comments

  1. Elaine says

    Thanks for the reminder, Mark! I am so thankful it is "not in our persuasiveness or superior reasoning or arguing skills but in God. That's why Paul tells Timothy, correct with gentleness in the hope that "God may perhaps grant them repentance…" Christians must certainly stand for truth and speak out. But let us address our opponents with kindness and gentleness, then trust God to do what only He can do – change their hearts."

    When I become frustrated with someone and give up on them ever changing, the Lord reminds me of what He has accomplished for me, and reminds me – once again – that all things are possible in Him.

  2. thunderberrygrace says

    thanks for this..it was really helpful…..I think Rush Limbaugh needs prayer too…..Also, there has to be no reason to be hated whether it be our attitude or temprment…but it does help reach out to those who are on the fence…..I think we need to fight the good fight of faith…with mercy mixed with fear. Love our enemies means we tell them things they dont want to hear. The advantage we have as Christians ..is this we are in the light …and they are in darkness. and light overcomes darkness. Being Kind to someone may be hurtful in someinstances…we want them to see Jesus…not how upright we are…becaus ewe will fall short! Thanks again for ths….i err on the side of being a loud mouth and a jerk……I pray God will help to tame my mouth…in every direction whether it is being kind at the wrong time and mean at the right time….

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Thanks for these great comments thunderberry! "I think we need to fight the good fight of faith…with mercy mixed with fear." Amen!

  3. says

    I needed to read this as a parent. I know so many good truths, but so often present them angrily, and spoil them in my children's ears. Oh Lord, help me to remember that "Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness!" (Prov 16:21)

  4. Mark Altrogge says

    Hey Betsy, you are so right – this is so important to remember as parents – and how often have I blown it in this area as well! Sure need God's grace.

  5. Nancy says

    Thank you, Mark. This post made me think of the patient, kind person who shared the gospel with me and all of my close friends when we were sophomores at IUP. He didn't criticize or condemn me when I said I believed in reincarnation and probably a whole host of other unbiblical ideas. All of us were won to Christ within a year.

  6. redmestic says

    Mark
    Thank you for this post! I really needed the reminder! It's amazing how angry people in social media land have been regarding the Rush Limbaugh issue and how in many minds, the Christian community is all lumped in with him. I'll be honest – I was tempted to respond to some biting attacks by biting back. That would not have been a good idea!

    Thanks again!
    Audra

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Hey Audra, thanks for your comments – yes, it’s sad that some would lump all Christians in with him. and sadly, some Christians deserve it. I hope we can all keep being gentle with our speech even when talking about serious issues.

  7. C.J. McMurry says

    Awesome reminder Mark! I had a great conversation with a professing atheist yesterday. He is the father of a good friend of mine who was recently converted to Christianity. Anyways, he (my friends dad) is convinced he is a chosen vessel of God’s wrath. And although I’m a firm believer in God’s sovereignty over man’s salvation and the doctrine of election and predestination I do not believe that I am able to determine who is who. So I simply told him I am not convinced that he is a chosen vessel of God’s wrath because he still has breath in his lungs. So I shared the bad news of our condition before a Holy God and it’s consequences then I shared The Good News that is found in Christ and HIS finished work on the cross for sinners. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (The Great Exchange). I told him that Christ calls all men everywhere to repent and believe The Gospel! I don’t know what the result will be, that’s up to God. But I will continue proclaiming the Gospel to all men everywhere because that’s what I’m commanded to do. I never assume anyone is a vessel of God’s wrath, I preach the simple truth of The Gospel!!!

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Very cool CJ – that's great! I agree, as long as he has breath, he can call on the name of Jesus and escape God's wrath. So keep on preaching the good news!

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