Many years ago, some friends of ours were having some trouble in their marriage – communication problems. They asked my husband and I to come to their house, spend some time with them and listen to the way that they talked to each other. It was a bit of an odd request but my experiences had taught me that “fresh eyes and ears” often provide much needed insight and a different perspective…so off we went!
When we first arrived, the four of us were just catching up with family news. We had recently moved so our friends inquired about our neighbourhood. My husband began describing the area and said something like, “Well, we live in a new neighbourhood so there aren’t many trees.” I was puzzled by his description and quickly responded with, ” What do you mean? There are lots of trees in our neighbourhood.” An awkward silence followed. It was particularly ironic, since we were there to help this other couple with communication and at this particular moment, my husband and I were completely disconnected.
The reality was that we were both right. We had moved to a relatively new neighbourhood so there weren’t a lot of established trees in the front of our house BUT we backed onto a little forest with lots of old, majestic trees. My husband was looking out the front window and I was looking out the back window. Same neighbourhood…Same house…different windows.
I remember that experience like it was yesterday because it was a pivotal moment for me.
The Bible is very clear about certain issues. God has given us some absolute truths to live by and there is no room for opinion – they are non negotiable. However, there are also a lot of “gray” areas in life and as we grow spiritually, we begin to develop personal convictions about lifestyle. We may feel very passionate about our choices but the danger is when we communicate our personal convictions about negotiable issues as the only right way. In doing so, there is judgment. We do not extend grace. We fail to love others well and we ignore the reality that God often uses other people to challenge and to help us ‘look at life from a different window.”
Wisdom frees us to differentiate between absolute truth and personal opinion.