January 27, 2017

Respectfully Agree to Disagree

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 27, 2017

Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Acts 15:37-39

My wife Rita and I have known each other 43 years, we even couple skated at Archie’s roller skating rink in the 7th grade. We finish each other’s sentences, we celebrate life’s joys, mourn life’s sorrows, love each other’s company, know the good, bad and ugly about one other and are best friends. Even though we are the closest we have ever been in our relationship, we still disagree—often—how fast I drive the car, how slow she drives the car, how much money to give away, save and spend, what to eat and how to spend our free time. But by God’s grace we respectfully agree to disagree—which means for us, when our choices are different—we still honor the other.

Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement, but were each still able to carry out the Lord’s work without seeking to discredit the other’s character or calling. They went their separate ways after Paul questioned the wisdom of engaging Mark on a mission trip since he had deserted them on their last missionary journey, so Paul took Silas and Barnabas nurtured Mark. Barnabas gave Mark a second chance: the Prophet verses the Encourager—perhaps both were right! As time passed Mark matured and Paul invited him back into his good graces and service for Jesus:

“Only Luke is with me [Paul]. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).

If we disagree with those who know us the best, how much more will we disagree with those who hardly know us or don’t know us at all? Thankfully it is ok, even necessary, to be different than others—if we are exactly the same—one of us is unnecessary. And by God’s grace we can disagree with one another without demonizing one another. When Jesus said to love our neighbors, He included all our neighbors—all those close and those far away. So what does it look like to be a good neighbor, especially when we have an opportunity to agree to disagree?

Loving our neighbor means we respect the individual, even if we disagree with their behavior. We are not combative but compassionate, we are not gossipers but go the extra mile with discreet conversations, and we are not isolated in our own little controlled world, but engage in the relational messiness around us. We can expect a higher standard of morality and ethics from those who follow Jesus, but those who walk in darkness will live darkened lives. Regardless of a person’s political, spiritual or regional persuasion, by God’s grace we treat them with love and respect. When we agree to disagree, we honor the relationship above trying to change the person.

“When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly” (1 Corinthians 4:12).



Heavenly Father, grow my heart of humility so my respect for others exceeds my rush to judgment.


With whom, different than me, do I need to perform some relational repair and learn to respect them as an individual?

Related Reading

Malachi 1:6; Matthew 5:44-46; Romans 12:14; 1 Peter 2:17, 3:9

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When we agree to disagree, we honor the relationship above trying to change the person. #WisdomHunters #agreetodisagree

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  1. Barb Dickson says:

    I have always believed that it is important to be able to agree to disagree and still have a good relationship with others.

  2. Gwynne says:

    Dear Barb,
    That is awesome! You are an example of what God wants us to do with our relationships. Thank you for shining His Light to those around you.
    When Boyd stated “When we agree to disagree, we honor the relationship above trying to change the person” it really put the value of the relationship into perspective. It was such a great reminder to all of us (myself included) that it is up to us to humbly and respectfully honor the relationship with our response. (Sometimes, agreeing to disagree is easier said than done).
    I am so thankful for God’s Grace in times like this! Thank you, Heavenly Father!
    Barb, we are so grateful for you!
    Keep shining His Light!

    “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
    Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
    That is why,for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardship, in persecutions,
    in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
    2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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