Today's proverb gets us right where we are, letting us know that when we are expressing ourselves, it is better to be curious and seek understanding, even of points of view we don't necessarily agree with, than simply expressing our own opinion.
This wisdom is very succinct in one way, that we should not merely be concerned with our own opinion. But on a deeper lever it is expressing a truth that is essential for peacemaking: Perspective Taking.
So you say chocolate, they say vanilla. You can't compromise on chocolate chip? No, they refuse. You go on and on about how chocolate is the superior choice, how great it is, there are even some health benefits to dark chocolate, you've read somewhere. No luck, they still refuse. Well, if they can't even compromise, then you obviously can't share ice cream, and you can't be friends. Goodbye, see you later.
Or, instead of simply stating your opinion and insisting it's right, you can try to understand their perspective. What's that? You're highly allergic to chocolate? I had no idea. Well OK, I guess we can get vanilla. Or maybe Strawberry? Once you understand their perspective, a peaceful solution is easier to reach.
And yes, ice cream isn't really a fundamental truth of existence that really matters all that much in our day to day lives. But even with matters of great importance, we can at least do our best to understand the perspective of those we disagree with. Not just WHAT they believe, but why.
Maybe they don't believe in God, attend church or see much value in Biblical truth. You can tell them all day long how they are wrong and you are right, but it would be more compassionate to find out the WHY of what they believe as well.
Maybe they had a really bad experience with church. Maybe they don't understand why God did not respond to a need they have as they thought He should. Just stating your own opinion doesn't address any of those issues in a real way.
Jesus' life on earth is the ultimate example of perspective taking.Hebrews 4:15 tells us, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." Our God isn't just some distant figure who looks down from above at our lives. He has been here on this planet, walked in our shoes, seen the best and worst humanity has to offer. Dealt with all the things we have to go through in a day. He lived a very human life, and as such completely understands our perspective when we do not see eye to eye with His Father's will.
Matthew 9:36 states, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Jesus didn't mock or laugh at the plight of people. He could have just said, "Well, whatever hardships you are facing, it's due to your sins. Good luck with all that." But he didn't. He had compassion on people.
Even from the cross Jesus showed this empathetic compassion when he asked, "“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
He knew, from a human perspective, they were just executing a bothersome rabble-rouser. It didn't change the fact that they were wrong, didn't change the fact that Jesus was suffering and dying horribly as a result. But acknowledging their perspective allowed Jesus to have a heart of compassion, even for those who were responsible for his death.
So today, let's worry less about trying to have our own opinions heard and validated, and try to gain an understanding of the people we disagree with most. A lot of the time, we'll probably find that we aren't all that different from them, if we can understand their perspective. Even if we can't agree, we can treat them as Christ commands us to, and showed us how: With, love, mercy and peace.
Prayer for Today:
Father, help me to try and understand others more, and worry about my own opinion less. Defending what I know to be true can blind me to the needs of others, so help me to be able to sympathize with the struggles and hang-ups of others, just as you sympathize with mine. Jesus help me to steer clear of sin myself, so I can see clearly to aid others. By your Holy Spirit give me understanding so I can do my part to bring your peace and compassion to the world. Amen.