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Election forces individuals to deal with differences

Spiritual Outlook with K.A. Zachary

Something amazing happened on election night 2012. The majority of citizens in the United States voted to keep representation in the nation’’s capitol pretty much the same. President Obama will return to Washington and a Republican majority will return to the House of Representatives. The nation’s vote will send persons in conflict back to Washington in hopes that they will model an example to the nation of how to deal with differences. Will they succeed? Only time will tell, but we need not wait for Washington to model the example.

According to the election results, it’s clear that our country is divided. This means that you, dear reader, are part of a huge problem in our country, and you must be part of the solution. We are being forced to learn how to handle our differences. In the Holy Bible one would find a book entitled Romans. Chapter 14 of Romans deals with a hotly debated issue of that day. The writer, the apostle Paul, knew siding with one party or the other in the debate would not provide a real solution, therefore he encouraged individuals in conflict to examine themselves. Paul said that one side was too demanding while the other was revealing immaturity. If Paul’s readers were going to work out their differences they would be required to adopt and practice of a few important principles.

First, those in conflict must determine to be considerate of one another and walk in charity (Romans 14:10 &15). Simply stated, we must be kind and charitable toward those who hold differing opinions. E.M. Blaiklock once wrote, “…even when a person is right in a certain view, his conviction must not be thrust upon others without regard to their feelings. There are ways of persuasion, and gentleness is not compromise.” We must express our opinions in ways that invite dialogue and build relationships.

Second, we must display maturity in our disagreements (Romans 14:1). True maturity is obvious in those who have learned to exercise patience. Impatience with others may be a sign of arrogance as well as immaturity. If we truly believe we are holding to the right position in any disagreement, we should confidently state our position and listen carefully to the other person’s response. If we determine they are without the facts and therefore in error, we should be patient with them and not judge them for their weakness. In Romans 14: 1 Paul said, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” John MacArthur said “disputes over doubtful things” could be rendered “for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions (or scruples).” MacArthur also says, “The mature believer should not sit in judgment on the sincere but underdeveloped thoughts that govern the weak believer’s conduct.” Following this advice is a clear indication of one who is modeling maturity in a disagreement.

Third, we must learn to practice silence. In Romans 14:22 verse, the Apostle Paul says, “Do you have faith?” which may be translated “Do you believe you are right?” Paul continues, “Have it to yourself before God.” Many times we only need voice our opinion once. After we state our belief we should practice silence and give more concern to actions that would complement our conviction. Such actions would allow our view to ring more clearly and echo with greater effect.

In conclusion, to help our nation come together, we must all learn to be kind to and patient with one another. We should practice our convictions before those we hope to influence, and we should all pray to God for the healing of our nation.

Submitted by K.A. Zachary, Pastor of New Covenant Church, 215 Florida Ave., Denham Springs. Contact Rev. Zachary at 225-664-0858.