It’s Okay to Disagree

Sometimes we persecute each other, condemning one another to hell for not agreeing with us just like Paul went around destroying Christians prior to his conversion (Acts 22:3-4; Galatians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:6). This happens when we don’t know God (John 16:2-3 cf. 1 Peter 1:14) as we ought and are lacking in the fruit of the Spirit.

On this side of heaven, we will never agree with one another on every single issue because we all have blindspots (1 Corinthians 8:7,13:12) and stumble in many ways (James 3:2). However, this does not mean that the person we’re disagreeing with does not have the Spirit of God—It just means that we have not all arrived fully (Hebrews 5:12; Romans 14:1 cf. John 17:17; Acts 18:26). A good and perfect example of this is the marriage union: Husband and wife are one flesh in a godly union brought about by God, and yet they don’t always agree on everything, do they? Even the Apostles didn’t: Paul rebuking Peter and Barnabas (Galatians 2:11-13), disagreement between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41), and who can forget Jesus rebuking Peter (Matthew 16:22-23)?

The Gospel is of utmost importance (1 Corinthians 15:3), for it is what saves and unites us. We can and are encouraged to tolerate those that we might disagree with but are preaching the true Gospel (Philippians 1:15-18). It is with a false gospel that we can’t tolerate (Galatians 1:6-9). Be wise and discerning. At the end of the day, we all should be connecting to the True Vine (John 15), not to men (1 Corinthians 1:12-13), and as we’re connected to the True Vine, the Spirit will lead us accordingly into all things as we walk before God in humility. Jesus says,

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples…” (John 15:8).

And again,

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

…for love is of God (1 John 4:7-8).

We should notice, firstly, the hasty ignorance of the Apostle Peter. One moment we find him refusing to allow his Master to do such a servile work as He is about to do—“Do you wash my feet?” “You shall never wash my feet.” Another moment we find him rushing with characteristic impetuosity into the other extreme—“Lord, wash not my feet only, but my hands and my head.” But throughout the transaction we find him unable to take in the real meaning of what his eyes behold. He sees, but he does not understand.

Let us learn from Peter’s conduct that a man may have plenty of faith and love, and yet be sadly destitute of clear knowledge. We must not set down men as graceless and godless because they are dull, and stupid, and blundering in their religion. The heart may often be quite right when the head is quite wrong. We must make allowances for the corruption of the understanding, as well as of the will. We must not be surprised to find that the brains as well as the affections of Adam’s children have been hurt by the fall. It is a humbling lesson, and one seldom fully learned except by long experience. But the longer we live the more true shall we find it, that a believer, like Peter, may make many mistakes and lack understanding, and yet, like Peter, have a heart right before God, and get to heaven at last. —J.C. Ryle [1816-1900]

By all means, disagree if you think your brother is in the wrong, but love and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit so that all may know that you are His disciple indeed. Growth in grace and knowledge goes hand in hand (2 Peter 3:18).

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