Arguments. And How to Have a Good One.


Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. —Ephesians 5:1-2 NIVUK

When Ray and I were first married, we were terrible at arguing. We each had a strategy, and neither strategy was remotely associated with the verse above. Mine was to store up offenses until I had quite the self-righteous list, and then dump them on Ray with words like “you always” or “you never.” I didn’t listen. I tiraded.

Ray’s strategy was to look disgusted, perhaps inform me of the foolishness of my pitiful arguments, and then refuse to engage. Life was not always fun and games in our home in those early years. Two selfish individuals, bossy firstborns used to having our own way. We accomplished nothing good with our arguments. Instead, we became enemies—who made up, but then started the cycle all over again. We loved each other, sure, but the difficulty in arguing appropriately was slowly killing our marriage. It was only because we both believed marriage was forever that we even stuck it out and realized we needed some serious help.

We’ve learned a lot since then. It started with a decision: Let’s always be on the same team, look together at our disagreement, shoulder to shoulder as we try to solve it, instead of opposing one another like enemies.* Home has since become a haven and place of peace for both of us. Our arguments are rare, and they are much nicer, I am happy to say. Of course, we still have stubborn tendencies and like having our own way—but we are also children of the King, who has taught us much as we have studied His wonderful words in the Bible.

Here are some life lessons from Ephesians 5:1-2 about how to argue well that we’ve learned the hard way.

Follow God’s example. When we look at the long-suffering patience of God, when we remember that He forgives us over and over and over and extends undeserved pardon, it changes the way we respond to that person we disagree with. Jesus was so kind to sinners and to confused disciples. He saved His sharpest words for fakers, those who claimed to know God, but acted nothing like Him. Let’s study God and ask Him to help us be more and more like Him.

Remember we are dearly loved children. When I remember whose I am, and that I am always dearly loved, it helps me to feel secure and safe, no matter who is angry with me. The One who matters most loves me. Eternally. So I’m going to be more than okay.

Live a life of love. I love the alliteration of these words and memorized them years ago. The preeminent two commands given in Scripture are to love God and love others. We can’t get away from that. Jesus made it clear that this extended even to nasty Roman soldiers demanding others carry their backpacks—and to our literal or perceived enemies. We need to see all humans as created beings made on purpose for a purpose and needing God in their lives to live the lives He wants for them.

Many passages in the Bible instruct us in this life of love. Galatians 5:19-21a tells us what it does not look like: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (NIVUK).

Ephesians 4:29-32 instructs us on what it should look like: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIVUK).

For most of us, our natural tendency is to demand our own way, favor our own opinions and needs, and not empathize sufficiently with the one we are arguing with. If we could remember that God wants us to “live a life of love” then our disagreements would be far more agreeable. We wouldn’t just be interested in winning and crushing our opponents. We’d be interested in the state of their souls and their need to see God’s love revealed in us. Yes, we can still disagree. However, we’d be far kinder and far more likely to be heard if we spent some time in God’s Word first, remembering His commands to be known as Christians by our love.

Dear Heavenly Father, how do You put up with us? We are a contentious bunch, set on getting our own way at the cost sometimes of another person’s well-being and needs. Help us to phrase arguments with kindness and listening hearts. Enable us to live like Christ, honest and true, but also sacrificial and gentle, giving rest to wearied souls. Lord, I want to be a restful and safe place for my dear ones. I want my friends to feel they can express views without fear of my searing anger or disdain. I want to be more like You. Help me, please, to live a life of love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*A most helpful strategy we gleaned from Chuck Swindoll’s book, Strike the Original Match.

You are loved,




Sweet Selah Ministries

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and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Candie Remick
    February 7, 2022 3:54 pm

    Sharon, I am so guilty of having lashed out at Doug in
    the past with ” you always ” ( and such an exaggeration).
    I am so thankful that my spiritual growth has led me to
    the place where I am able to lovingly and patiently
    discuss a difference of opinion or whatever the circumstance
    might be instead of becoming defensive and self -righteous.
    Thank you, Lord for your example and continue to help
    me be more like You. Thank you Sharon for sharing
    some of the most intimate parts of your life. You are so honest
    and relatable.

    • Sharon Gamble
      February 7, 2022 3:59 pm

      Oh Candie, it’s so easy to exaggerate when we are hurt, isn’t it? And SO hard to step back and try to see the other person’s perspective. Oh, how we need the Lord to help us love as He loves! Also, I am so thankful I have a husband who doesn’t mind me talking about “us” publicly. It’s awfully nice of him. Love you, friend. May God give both of us His kind of love for all the people in our lives!

  • Margaret Fowler
    February 7, 2022 8:31 pm

    Thanks for your honesty. And thanks for such good suggestions.
    We have had our share, believe me! As we grow older, I find it
    helpful to forgive, long before I feel forgiving! Then the heart
    forgiveness follows. Asking the Lord to forgive me for my part
    is essential. Thanks for practical advice. God bless you.

    • I love that good advice about forgiving. Sometimes we say it before we feel it to honor God and bless the other … the feelings follow! And oh boy. Sometimes that “saying it” is hard!!


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