The Best Way to End Arguments

The older I get, the more valuable time seems. And I don’t want to spend a lot of time debating people who aren’t looking for an answer as much as an argument.

My husband, Jim, was preaching from Luke 5 when the idea for this blog post was born. In that passage, Peter, the apostle, provides the best way to end arguments about our faith.

Peter and his coworkers, Andrew, James, and John, had just returned from a very unproductive fishing expedition. These men were professional fishermen. Jim reminded us that Jesus was a carpenter.

Technically, Jesus should have offered Peter advice about building a boat and left the fishing to Peter and his crew. Instead, Jesus tells Peter, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).

You have to love Peter at this point.

He gently reminds the King of the Universe who the “professional” fisherman in the conversation should be. Peter says, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing” (5:5).  I would love to have a photo of Jesus’ face at this moment. I imagine Jesus giving Peter “the look” because the next words have Peter saying, “But at your word I will let down the nets” (5:5).

Bam. Argument over.

Expert opinions

Our culture struggles with authority these days, and often that’s a good thing.

We live in an era when the news media is more interested in creating drama than reporting facts. Those of us who blog for the internet are told to “grab” our readers in the first two paragraphs because we only have eight seconds before readers click it “off.” Creativity should never be more important than truth.

(A personal word: keep reading on my posts . . . the best stuff is almost always at the end.)

Are the best opinions in front of the camera wearing makeup and designer clothes or exiting the network doors with their resumes in hand? What if our finest opinions are unheard because the authors of those opinions don’t want to endure the media circus that is sure to follow? Opinions are only as impressive as their sources.

Some people accept authority better than others. You probably already know your own tendencies. Do you question whether the doctor is giving you good advice? Do you tend to believe or doubt the “experts” you encounter? How does that impact your approach to God’s word?

Peter was an expert fisherman and had built a large company as a result. (We know that because he had multiple employees and boats.) The apostle could have created an effective argument with Jesus, and most of us would have been swayed by his opinion. Peter was, after all, the expert fisherman. But Peter was also aware of who was telling him to get back in the boat.

Peter’s words should frame every faith argument we have in the future. We might see ourselves as the “experts” in the conversation,but we aren’t; Jesus is. The words that should guide ours are the same words Peter used: “But at your word I will” believe, go, teach, obey, choose—you get the point.

Obedience and blessings

Are we struggling to believe everything the Bible teaches?

Are we okay with kids or grandkids living together or experimenting with sex before marriage because “it’s what everyone is doing these days”?

Have we begun to think of things like abortion as a political opinion rather than what God’s word says about life?

Do we think because someone is born with a weakness that it justifies their sinful behavior?

Do we go easier on sin because the world offers understanding and compassion as justification?

How do we “argue” for our faith in a world that makes great arguments against our beliefs?

Peter answered that question for us with his example.  He told Jesus, “But at your word I will . . . .”

Psalm 119 is about the eternal truth of God’s word. I try to read that psalm often to focus my own thoughts and ideas. The psalm begins by saying, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!”

Peter’s men went fishing again that day and caught so many fish their boats started to sink. They returned to the shore with their enormous catch and, “when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken” (Luke 5:8–9).

Peter obeyed Jesus’ word and was greatly blessed.

All of us desire God’s blessings, and God wants us to have them. The next time we argue with the wisdom of Scripture or become involved in someone else’s argument with God’s word, let’s follow Peter’s example. We just need to look to Jesus and say, “But at your word I will . . . .”

Bam. Argument over.

Have a “blessed” week!