I recently performed a wedding ceremony for a couple from our school, but only a week after that I heard of another young couple who just got divorced. As wonderful and glorious as marriage is, it is only truly great if it ends well. Marriage is one of the only things in the world that is only a success if it ends in death. As I lay pondering what advice to give the about-to-be newly married couple on the eve of their wedding, I thought of a principle that, if practiced, would virtually put an end to divorce. It is a biblical principle that guarantees that you can win every argument you ever get into. Although I thought about this principle with regard to married couples, it works for all people who get into any kind of argument. Practicing this principle will not only guarantee you will be the winner of every argument, it will make the person you argued with respect you, and will almost always result in reconciliation. What is this biblical principle? I am glad you asked.
From a biblical perspective, the winner of an argument is the one who has God in his or her side. If you are defending a position and God’s favor rests on you, the argument is over; you are the winner because God never loses. So the key to winning an argument is getting God on your side. So how do we do that?
James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” That means if you display humility, you will receive God’s favor and God’s favor will bring you victory. What does humility look like in the midst of an argument? James tells us in the next verse: “Submit yourselves, then, to God.” Submission is James’ synonym for humility. So if you want to display humility in an argument, just let your opponent win. Yield to the one you are arguing with. Say, “You are right, I am wrong.” Apologize and prefer the other over yourself. It takes humility to do this, but if you do, you win God’s favor and that makes you the winner.
That may sound like a cop out, because I just described how to lose an argument, but it only sounds that way because you are thinking that the subject being argued about determines the winner of the argument. But an argument is not won when one side proves the other wrong. One of my favorite sayings is: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” winning a debate or an argument does not necessarily change the other person’s point of view, so in what way is that a victory? Because it makes you feel good, having out-argued your opponent? Is that the victory we are looking for? That is a good way to pad our pride, and when we do that we come out the losers.
The focus of an argument is not the issue being argued; it is the attitude and responses of the people doing the arguing. An argument is a test. God is looking to see how you will respond, and the one who responds and behaves in the most Christ-like manner is the winner of the argument. It may not be so in the world’s eyes, but it certainly is true in God’s eyes, and his are the eyes that matter most. God’s ways are generally the opposite of the world’s ways, so it should not come as a surprise that the secret to wining every argument is to be the first to give in, the first to yield to the other. If every married couple will practice this principle, we will have far fewer divorces. If church members practice it, we will have far fewer church splits.
Arguments occur because we try to defend ourselves. In the legal world it is a well-known maxim that he who defends himself in court has a fool for a client. Moses was declared the humblest man on the face of the earth when he refused to defend himself in the face of a challenge brought by his brother and sister, who thought they should have as much authority as he had. Numbers 12 tells the story, and when Moses refused to defend himself, God came down from heaven and defended him. If you defend yourself, God will not defend you. If you humbly refuse to defend yourself, you win God’s favor and he will come to your defense. I would much rather have God defending me than to have to rely on myself to do it.
If you think this is too altruistic and will not work in the real world, try it. The next time you are in an argument, be respectful of the one you are arguing with, concede any point you can, and be as humble as possible, refusing to speak in a way that is defensive of yourself. See what happens. Make this a habit any time you are in a disagreement. I think you will be shocked at how well it works. After all, it is a biblical principle.