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Well Said - By Pastor Thomas Engel

I was watching a movie the other night, and it turned out not to be a very good movie.

In reading the short preview, I saw a lot of actors whom I liked in other movies, so I thought this movie would be good.

After a half-hour of watching the movie, I was thinking to stop watching, but I wanted to give it a chance for it to get better.

It never got better.

Usually, I don’t read reviews of movies because I want to make my own opinion of a movie without the influence of other opinions.

Out of curiosity, I did read reviews of this movie after I watched it, and I was right. The two hours of watching this movie was not time well spent.

One of the reviews did say what I thought. The writer of this review liked the actors, too, yet, he wondered why they chose to be in such a lousy movie.

If you were watching the movie with me, you might have said that it was a good movie, or it was the worst movie ever made.

It’s human nature to have likes and dislikes. Our opinions are based on our experiences.

Since we have different experiences, we have different outlooks on food, movies, books, and well, on all parts of life.

In these times, it has been said that we are living in a culture of opinion, and a professor said back when I was in seminary that we are living in a hyped-up time of communication.

Back then, it was just the beginning of the World Wide Web. I wonder what he would say about social media as it is today.

Looking around at all the ways that we can express ourselves, the sharing of opinions is definitely on steroids.

To my college English students, I say, “You have the right to your opinion; you have the right to say your opinion, but you also have the responsibility to say your opinion well.”

To save time here and not to go into a whole college course on the differences and similarities of debate, argument, and persuasion, let’s use this for the topic of our opinions and their influences on how we get along with each other:

I like what I once read, “True and artful persuasion is teaching without either of you identifying who is the teacher or who is the student.”

The constructive sharing of opinions is how people can share their sides and come up with a solution that is formed from all the information gathered.

Opinion sharing is an art more than a science because the exciting part of this kind of sharing is that a solution can be something that’s beyond everyone’s imagination. It’s seems like magic when good words with sincere intentions come together to make a surprising result.

Compassion for others that leads to understanding of where the other side is coming from is the key to good communication.

So, we choose our words wisely-not so much with proper grammer-although as a grammar “nut,” I am silently grading people as they speak, but it’s more about taking the time to chose words that show kindness as we are considering others with every word that we speak.

Words that are well said are easier to listen to. Instead, of cutting each other off, the other side says, “Yes, I’m listening, keep talking.”

The concern in the sharing of opinions is that we try to push a person to come to our side.

It’s part of human nature to try to convince others to join in our opinions. After all, we do have some good ideas, and if the world would just listen to me, it would be better off.

Right? Well, maybe.

“What do you want for dinner tonight, honey? We can have whatever you want, but tacos sure sound good.”

You set your mind on something, and you want to be open to another idea, but you can’t help but to try to sway a person into your corner.

And going on with human nature, we like to talk more about our opinions than to listen to someone else’s opinion.

If we do give the chance for the other person to state his case, we don’t give it the full benefit of our consideration.

And if we do bear and hear it, there’s one more part of human nature-we don’t like for anyone to get the better of us, so we might start becoming deceitful, mean-spirited, and judgmental.

In doing so, we might manipulate and mislead the other side. It’s tempting to overinflate facts, to add drama to gain sympathy, and to over moralize-if a person does not take to your opinion, they must be a “bad” person.

Scripture is full of persuasion for the negative and the positive.

The first obvious example of negative opinion sharing is in the Garden of Eden, which was suppose to be paradise forever. At least, God started it out that way.

Satan was a good angel, but he rebelled and became an enemy of God and all that is good, and he wanted to ruin paradise by taking the first humans with him on the side of evil.

God told Adam and Eve that they could eat from any tree but not the tree of good and evil.

Just think, only one rule to follow and you are good to go!

Adam, Eve, and God walked and talked together in the garden. They had a good relationship.

Satan was an outsider, but he was so good at what he did-deception.

Satan raised the question, “Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?”

I am all for asking questions for clarity and to get gain understanding, but some questions can be misleading.

“Honey, how much do you want to eat tacos, my favorite, for dinner?”

Even in a court of law, lawyers are not to ask “leading” questions. These questions are wrong but make for good courtroom drama when the other side objects.

I would like to be a trial lawyer just to stand, pound on the table, and shout, “Honor, I object.” That would be so cool.

Sorry. I digress, but the asking of questions to gain depth is an important skill in bringing about solutions.

Getting back to the Garden of Eden, Satan said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Do you see what Satan did here? Satan is quite clever in his deception. First, he invokes doubt with a question about God’s command that was quite clear. And then, he tells the truth but mixes into the truth a lie.

The truth is that if they eat of the tree that they will be like God and know good and evil. But, God created people not to know evil, He wanted us to know only good. Satan’s lie is that they will not die if they eat of the fruit.

C. S. Lewis, the Christian writer, wrote a book, The Screwtape Letters, about how a senior demon is training his nephew to deceive people. The book is intended for Christians to get an inside look on how the devil and his demons want to trick us into false beliefs.

If we were to grade Satan here in the school of deception as far as his use of words to deceive the first humans to disobey God, we have to give him an “A.”

As far as deception goes, Satan said everything well, for Adam and Eve did fall away from their conviction to obey God.

Sadly, for all of humankind, Satan was able to convince through deception.

Of course, this one event shows how destructive persuasion by purposely misleading can be. It brought sin and physical death to every human being.

On the positive side of opinion sharing, God persuaded Noah to build a huge boat in the middle of dry land. When looking for a leader, God persuaded Moses to be that leader although Moses saw himself as not a very good speaker. God said he would take care of that by giving him the words to say.

Jonah had to be swallowed by a big fish to be persuaded to go to Ninevah, and Job had to lose everything to gain a solid faith that understood God as the creator of everything and to trust in God as the one who knows what is best for His creation.

Joseph didn’t want to take Mary as his wife because she was pregnant. But, an angel came to Joseph to convince him to marry her.

When we see Jesus call his disciples, it seems that before this time, they knew of Jesus and had heard him speak and maybe even had spoken with him, which makes me think there was some kind of talk between them that led to their decision.

Maybe the disciples weren’t sure that they should give up their livelihood to follow this newcomer, Jesus. Because Jesus spoke very well in his teaching about the Kingdom of God, people came to believe in him like the disciples leaving everything to follow him on his journey here on earth.

Even the Pharisees admitted that Jesus spoke well with authority. But, in their stubbornness, they could not come to believe that Jesus was God the Son in the flesh.

Jesus speaks of love well because he is love.

God the Father sent Jesus to earth, so we could see, hear, and feel God’s love.

Jesus speaks of forgiveness of sins well because he is the only absolver of sins.

On Good Friday, Jesus said just before he died on the cross, “It is finished.” These few words are well said, for they show that our sin has been atoned for.

Jesus can speak of resurrection well because he is the resurrection and eternal life.

On that first Easter, Jesus raised himself from the dead and is now in heaven preparing a place for us.

Jesus can speak well of power and strength because when the devil tried to persuade Jesus in the desert to come to be on his side, he resisted the devil.

We are privileged that Jesus has come to live in us. At our baptism, the pastor spoke well words from the command of Jesus to baptize all nations when he said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

We are now in God’s family and have his constant love and care.

When we go to the Lord’s table, we hear words that Jesus spoke well in his final Passover meal with his disciples. “This is my body given to you; This is my blood shed for you.”

By this holy eating and drinking, we know for sure that Christ is in us.

When we read and hear God’s word, we can be sure Jesus is speaking well to us, because he is the Word that became flesh.

To show that he could speak well because he is the Word that came to dwell among us, he healed people, raised people from the dead, and cast out demons.

We are living in a culture of opinion with many ways to share words about our opinions.

Having lots of words out there is a good thing if they are well said.

To say them well, we need to speak knowing that Jesus lives in us. With Jesus in us, we can speak with empathy knowing we are speaking not out of knowledge but out of love.

Scripture says, “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.”

In everyday life, our opinion sharing is more about the coming together of ideas to make a super-idea that is above all other ideas for the most benefit of all.

But, if we don’t come to some kind of agreement, it’s best to stop there, for to go further might start a bitter fight and the forcing of opinions on each other.

Talking about human nature earlier, we need to watch out how our sinful nature might cause us to sin when we are in hot- button issues.

Instead in our talks, especially if we are finding that we still disagree, we can say to each other, “Well said, my friend, we can agree to disagree.”

And we can go off on a afternoon of playing golf and enjoy each other’s company.

When we speak in the love that Jesus has come to bring, even in our differences, we can be of one accord in that love.

Jesus is the only one who has absolutely no deceit in him. From him, every word is true because of whom he is. Jesus said, “I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life.”

When we are speaking or in these days posting, it would be good to ask a few questions, “Why am I doing this? Is it reflecting who I am in Christ? How is this showing the way, the truth, and the life of Christ?”

As Jesus has no lie in him, hatred, or the will to force, we should not have these things in us, either.

Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, neighbors, co-workers, students, or citizens of one nation don’t always share the same opinions, but we can love one another in Christ, and in that love, come together in agreement how to live.

A Bible scholar, who knew several languages, had many degrees, had traveled the world, and lectured for many years at great universities was once asked what was the most important idea that he wanted the whole world to know.

He paused and with a sincere and serious tone, he slowly said,

“Jesus loves me, this I know

for the Bible tells me so

Little ones to him belong

they are weak but he is strong”

Very well said.

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