We have lost the art of civil conversation and debate. People spend more time talking over one another in order to win a debate rather than actually engaging in conversation for the purpose of learning the “why” of their beliefs as well as “what”. Elihu provides a good guide for having a conversation with others with whom you may disagree:
1. Defer to elders.
Job 32:6-7 “And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion. I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.”
2. Listen to learn, not simply form a reply.
V11 “Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.”
3. Be knowledgeable and Spirit-filled when speaking.
V17-18 “I said, I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine opinion. For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me.”
4. Speak to impart knowledge, not flatter someone’s ego.
V21-22 “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.”
LESSON - What are the take aways:
1. Respect your elders.
Elders have much wisdom. Even if you know more, you still have not lived as long so you should defer to them. You will typically learn something of value.
2. Discipline yourself to really listen to people as they are speaking. Even if they disagree with you, they will respect you for showing deference to them.
3. Don’t talk just to hear yourself speak.
Make sure that you are knowledgeable regarding the subject matter. Better to hide one’s ignorance than to reveal it through speaking.
4. Make sure you are filled with the HS.
If the HS is not controlling your heart, your tongue will only speak things of the flesh. Again, it would be better to say nothing!
5. Be honest with no hidden agenda.
Don’t use flattering words which are insincere. Even if the motive was for good, it’s still a lie! Speak the truth in love.
By using this as a guide, you may earn the right to share the Gospel with someone who has waited a long time to speak with someone like you about spiritual matters.