“The Odd Couple,” a sitcom based upon a Neil Simon play, was on television from September 1970 through March 1975. Felix Ungar was an uptight hypochondriac, a picky eater, and neat freak! Oscar Madison was the exact opposite. The arguments between these two men were hilarious and numerous.
I can think of several people who are my opposites, but these are ones who don’t share my political, religious, or other views, and I wouldn’t characterize our relationships as hilarious. In fact, I’ve allowed them to become more than opposites; they’ve become opponents. When this happens, I have a battle in my head about how I’m correct and these misguided folks are wrong. I imagine myself, with God in my corner, and He’s on my side of the issue, protecting and defending as I ward off these misdirected folks. I even add in some scripture like Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” or Psalm 59:17: “God is my strength…and my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” Using these words from the Bible shores up my defenses and helps justify my thinking. After all, I believe I’m right and they’re wrong!
Right now, our country is divided on many issues. It’s easy for us to understand our way of thinking, and difficult to understand why others don’t agree. Social media has become an avenue for people to run over those with whom they differ. Hateful rhetoric and divisiveness seem to be the norm! So, what’s a Believer to do? The answer is found in scripture. Psalm 19:14: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” I need to chant these phrases daily!
I recall a teacher saying, “God gave you two ears and one mouth because you need to listen twice as much as you talk.” James 1:19 tells us: “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” The Bible points us in this direction in order to spare us shame, embarrassment, and other negative consequences, and to help us understand the opinions and viewpoints of others. I consider myself a kind person, but I recall many times I’ve spoken words that I later regretted and wished I could retrieve. I need to listen MORE.
Who’s your opposite? Are the two of you funny, like Felix and Oscar, or have you become opponents? With God’s help, we can see others as He sees them: worthy of love. Worthy of thinking differently. Love your neighbor – no exceptions!
– Susan Easttom, Director of Family Ministries