Thursday, June 22, 2023

Airing Opinions (Proverbs 18:2; 21:16; 21:24, 29)

"A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart" (Prov. 18:2).

An unteachable person often considers his opinions more valuable and more worthy of attention than any one else’s. Just about all of us can testify to knowing someone who forms opinions hastily and airs them with little knowledge to back them up. You may even be guilty of such behavior. This sort of unteachableness can be extremely censorious and divisive, and, above all, is despised by God Himself.

In a letter to his daughter, William Sprague warned against this kind of disposition. “It is not uncommon to find persons who seem to regard their own opinion as infallible, and who treat the opinion of others with proportionate disrespect. No matter though the subject be one in respect to which they may be utterly ignorant, they will deliver their opinion with dictatorial confidence, and will treat every objection and every query as if it were, of course, the offspring of folly or impertinence.”

People who are so opinionated have often arrived at their views rashly, without much consideration. It is common for such persons to change views privately after some reflection, only to refuse to reverse their positions publically because they have broadcast them so forcefully. This comes from an obstinate temper; they would rather be wrong than appear indecisive.

Clearly, you would be foolish not to have opinions, even very strong ones, especially about matters of faith. But your opinions should be settled only after much thought and instruction from wiser and more knowledgeable mentors. You must also maintain a teachable frame even after you have formed your opinions. If, sometime later, you discover you are in error, admit it and change your opinions. Be willing to listen to the views of others, and never be too prideful to ask advice.

When you form your opinions deliberately, with instruction, thought, and clarity of conscience, you will find yourself less swayed by conflicting opinions and more likely to hold to the truth in the long run. Think for yourself, examine the evidence available, but remain teachable so that you might learn from those worthy of your attention. Finally, hold fast to your opinions, unless they are proved wrong, but do not air them with a pompous and proud attitude.

How quick are you to tell other people your opinions? How similar are you to the person described by William Sprague? Throughout this week, make a conscious effort not to air your opinions. Listen to what others say first. Also, take stock of your opinions. How many were formed only after much thought and sound instruction?