How to Avoid Arguments — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

How to Avoid Arguments — Morning Devotions

Differences of opinion are normal and healthy in adult relationships. Here's some practical tips and Bible advice if we get into an argument.

By Chris WittsSaturday 9 Apr 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 1 minute

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It was a surprise for me recently when I typed in the Google search engine the words “how to avoid arguments”, and there were 18 million sites. That’s a lot of sites. Obviously, how to avoid arguments is a big issue out there. And because we mix with people all the time, misunderstandings arise, and an argument can easily start.

How do you feel when someone argues with you? Maybe you grew up in a home where arguments happened all the time, and your mum and dad argued with each other, or yelled and screamed at each other. If so, it’s very difficult to deal with someone who starts arguing with you. Something is triggered inside and we feel anger rushing to the surface. Some people love to argue about their pet issues, but they end becoming bores and are unpleasant to have around. We can get quite impatient with someone who wants to win every argument.

Some useful tips

You’ve probably found that many arguments occur for the wrong reasons and get out of hand easily. Sometimes it’s just the tone of voice that sets us off. But differences of opinion are normal and healthy in adult relationships and learning to compromise is a skill required in many areas of life. You possibly do this very often, and life is all about give and take. Some people are just naturally argumentative. You say black and they say white. You say go and they say stop. Dealing with argumentative colleagues at work, for example, is frustrating and can affect your work. But if you are in the middle of an argument, here a few tips:

  1. Stick to the issue in handdon’t bring up previous misdemeanours or other things you’ve been meaning to say.
  2. Don’t argue over triviafor example, arguing whether it was Monday or Tuesday that you forgot to buy the milk. The issue is you forgot, not which day it was. So what? Does it really matter?
  3. Start sentences with ‘I’for example, I felt annoyed when you… rather than You annoyed me when…; and I would like to go out more often, not We should go out more often.
  4. Don’t use absolutesnever say never, always, should or shouldn’t. They’re irritating and often inaccurate. For example, You never wash up will almost certainly get a response of What about when…?
  5. Let your opinions stand on their own meritsdon’t be tempted to bring in other people’s opinions.
  6. Try to stay sitting down, relax your muscles and don’t forget to breatheit’s much easier to stay calm if you’re not pacing around the room.
  7. Don’t start throwing abuse aroundcalling your partner lazy, fat or paranoid isn’t going to convince them to see your point of view.
  8. Try not to block the conversationdon’t interrupt, launch into a monologue or expect them to be a mind-reader. Stay calm. Don’t get drawn into the argument by getting worked up. Staying calm will also help you think and speak clearly. Listen intently. Tune out the argumentative words and focus on the point your friend or colleague is trying to make. Think carefully before you speak. This will help to prevent the argument from getting personal and help make certain that you state your point clearly. Speak in a calm and composed manner. This ensures that you will not compound the argument by your tone of voice or body language.
  9. Know when to walk awaythe discussion is getting nowhere, walk away and revisit the issue later.

Way back in 1935 a book was published called How to win friends and influence people by Andrew Carnegie. It sold 15 million copies back then—a huge success story. But he talks about having arguments—and says that when you deal with people, it’s crucial to remember two things:

  • Don’t criticise, condemn or complain.
  • Give honest, sincere appreciation.

This should be obvious for one reason: nobody likes to be around anyone who is constantly criticising them or complaining about their behaviour. We often fail to remember everyone has reasons (even if we think they’re poor ones) for doing what they do. Kids will justify cheating in school because everyone is doing it. Thieves will tell you they steal because they can’t get a job or life has been unfair to them. Famous people cave into all kinds of temptation because, You don’t know what it’s like to have all this pressure. I could go on and on—right or wrong, everyone has reasons for doing what they do.

Remember too that we are emotional beings, not logical, rational creatures. The vast majority of people act on emotion, then try to justify their actions with some amount of logic. Salesmen and marketers figured this out a long time ago.

So here’s what Dale Carnegie realised: if we ‘attack’ people by criticising them or complaining about their behaviour they’ll only dig in their heels and justify why they’ve done something. It’s like having two people stand face-to-face with their hands pressed against one another. As soon as one person applies a little pressure the other person automatically does so too. Nothing is achieved. And excessive arguments don’t allow anyone to win.

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The right attitude for Christians

I like what the Bible says, especially in the book of James: “Why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn’t it because you are full of selfish desires that fight to control your body? You want something you don’t have…you won’t get it by fighting and arguing. You should pray for it.” (James 4:1-2 – CEV) And then Paul gives some sound advice to Timothy: “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:23-24 – NIV).

Sometimes people will say things just to see us get upset, and they stir up trouble. Paul’s advice is very simple—don’t let them do it. Don’t let them get you riled up so that you lose your cool, blow your top, say things you shouldn’t say, and end up in a bitter shouting match. We are basically selfish, and James realises the problem. We want to experience pleasure—but when that becomes the top priority, we’re asking for trouble.

Proverbs 13:10 (NCV) says: “Pride only leads to arguments.” That’s so simple. We do not want anyone or anything getting in our way, and conflict usually results. Pride causes arguments. The next time you’re in an argument, ask yourself, is this really worth it? James tells us that pride—when we think we can do things on our own—causes two problems: “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.” (James 4:2-3 – NIV). Here James tells us two reasons why our desires aren’t fulfilled:

  • We don’t pray.
  • We don’t ask God.

We look to the wrong source. We look to people to fulfil our needs instead of looking to God. He says, I’ll meet your needs, just pray. And when we do pray, we usually pray with the wrong motive. We ask things in a selfish way. The Bible has said that everything I need God has promised to provide. He’ll meet my desires to have, to be, to feel. Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) says that “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” if we’ll ask in prayer. But we’d rather fight than pray.

Philippians 2:3-5 says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, [Why? Because pride causes arguments] but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest but also the interest of others. [He doesn’t say don’t look about your own interest—you’ve got needs. He’s not saying to lay down and be a doormat. But look out also for the interest of others] Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.”

How do you get that attitude? Let Jesus Christ live through your life. When Jesus Christ lives in me and Jesus Christ lives in you, Jesus isn’t going to argue with Jesus. There is no ego there. Which of these desires cause the most conflict in your life? Maybe it’s the desire to have and you’re so busy out there making a living that you forget to make a life, hustling, day in and day out, to make a living that your relationships are falling apart. The desire to have is greater than the relationships you have around you.

Lord, would you help me to think of others and not just my own desires? Help me to be willing to admit when I am wrong. Maybe you need to go to somebody today and apologise. Say, I’ve been selfish and I’m sorry. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but He gives grace to the humble.” God will give you the power to change and become the person you’ve always wanted to be. The Bible says he lifts you up, before honour is humility.

Then would you pray:
God, today I want to give in to you. I give you my life, my marriage, my career. I submit it all to you. I ask you to put the peace of Christ in my heart to rule. Help me to get wise to Satan, to realise he plays on my pride and tells me things I want to hear but really only make matters worse. Father, help me to grow closer to you, to make time in my schedule for time with you. Father, I admit that many times I’ve put me first.