The greatest opinion we can make is made in the company of another. And that companion is LOVE. My conviction in these next articles, therefore, is that I Corinthians 13 applies to our opinion-making. Faith, hope, and the greatest of these, charity, that is, love, abide. So these all including love must abide in all of our conversation. I trust also that the reader agrees with me.
In a previous article we discussed wise opinions and wise opinion-making. This dealt with the content and with the timing of our opinions. Rather than be imprecise, we must always try to say that which we think (the key here is think) is true. And rather than being hasty in our speech and/or saying too much, we, as wise opinionaters, try to speak at the right time. But just as important as the content of our opinions and just as important also as the timing of them is the way we state them. This manner is not simply a mechanical technique. It is a living and personal attitude. And this matter, this attitude, has to do with the standard of love. The subject is this important: for if the right attitude is behind our opinions then we are loving the one(s) to whom we speak and keeping God’s commandments. But if our attitude is not that of love, then we are submitting ourselves and our opinions to another standard, to the standard of the Devil and to his rule of hate.
Two Examples of Self-Serving Opinions
Let me give the reader and fellow opinion-maker examples of un-loving opinions. Carl and Bill are talking about cars. John comes up to them and without even waiting to hear what they are talking about starts talking, and in a boastful manner, about girls. Not only does John show a lack of wisdom in his not waiting to hear what was the subject discussed, but he shows his lack of love for Carl and Bill in this way: he hurries to assert himself, for he is proud (boastful).
Here is another example close to home. I was talking to my partner on the way to work a while back. We passed a mobile home and I blurted out in so many words: “That place sure is a dump. I think all mobile homes are, in quality, a great step below houses with foundations.” My partner then looked at me and said: “That’s your opinion, friend. Our family lives in a mobile home, and we’ve enjoyed it quite well these past several years.”
Of course I had not known he himself lived in a mobile home. Nor, in fact, did I know really anything about which I was talking. Mostly I was talking just to hear myself or just to fill, with anything, the gap of silence that had fallen. I realize more now that holes or gaps in conversation can only be patched by love, and not by any old words (even true ones) said in any old way. And, experience in faith teaches us, one must take care to be filled with the Spirit and brimming with love before he assays to speak and pours a cup of lukewarm convictions or battery-acid opinions into the lap of another.
Less obvious but no less worse examples than the above of our not loving others with our opinions can be multiplied faster than rabbits, bacteria, and crabgrass can be.
But let us continue instead in our next article by rightly dividing the Word. And this, in order that we might think on what is true and praise-worthy about the loving opinions we can make.