Do you have an opinion? Sure you do! Even before I mention a subject, a situation, or a decision, I can state (almost unequivocally) you will have an opinion! Right, wrong, or indifferent, you will have an opinion. Even if you don’t “state” it verbally, you will have one. What we do with our “opinions” can serve to hurt others or, clothed in grace, benefit others.
Here’s a real world example that helps us understand that not all of our opinions, while we are free to have them, are always the right one. The iPhone turned 10 years old earlier this year. It was introduced by Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007, and began shipping six months later in June. Three months after its debut, Steve Ballmer, who was Microsoft’s CEO at the time, scoffed at Apple’s new gadget saying, “there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” Now a decade later, Apple has sold over 1 billion of the coveted phones. I am not sure how Mr. Ballmer handled the reality that came and continues to come as Apple introduces the next version of the iPhone later this month!! (USA Today, 1/10/17, p.5B)
Sometimes we look around at others and see some of the decisions they have made or even look at the church in some of her decisions and we “form” an opinion as to the worth or lack of worth of the action. Our opinion is most generally based on very little fact or factual information and most likely we don’t know the complete back story or all that went into making the decision. In the case of a believer or a church, we can suppose the decision involved a lot of prayer; and, thus, our opinion is nothing more than an empty judgment that is unwarranted.
The problem comes when we verbally express our opinion negatively or in some other way that serves to cause another to question their actions or decisions even though they have sought counsel, input and, more directly, God’s leadership. Rather than “express our opinion,” which is basically just our personal judgement, would it not be better to be positive in our assessment until we know the facts? Even when we know, our comments and counsel should be given with love and grace, not with a negative “how could you do such a thing” approach. Allowing for the positive potential that might even be encouraged by your support or kind words would be the much better approach and serve to build bridges of rapport rather than harm relationships.
When we look around at others and form opinions or judgements rather than determining how we might be involved in a positive way, we knowingly or unknowingly contribute to someone else’s struggle who would benefit from our “positive input” or encouragement. Jesus spoke to this in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them.” (Matthew 7:1-2a NLT)
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