Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them,“Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
Cindy Ant and Billy Ant had been arguing for hours about how best to defend their ant hill.
“Building a moat just won’t work, Billy,” Cindy said. “Maybe we can dig the trench, but where will we get the water? And even then, we might end up flooding the colony.”
She made sense, but Billy wouldn’t give in. “You just hate ants,” Billy said. “You probably want other bugs to come and eat us. Are you really an ant anyway? Maybe you’re an anteater in disguise.”
Cindy just shook her head and walked away. It was no use arguing with Billy when he got this way…
That’s the way it is too often with some people. Honestly, a lot of folks, when they’re defeated in an argument and they’re not willing to give in, will try to make their opponents defensive in order to try to win.
We’ve all seen the arguments:
- “You just hate women and children, don’t you?”
- “You’re too old to understand.”
- “You’re just a dumb kid.”
- “You just hate people who don’t look like you.”
It’s easier to make your opponent seem like the bad guy than to try to reason with someone using facts. And if you’re goal is to win and not to get the best solution, then you’re a lot more likely to be irrational than to give in and let the other person be right.
In our scripture today, the Pharisees had a goal of being right, and of “winning” against Jesus. Nicodemus didn’t say Jesus was right. He merely said that they should follow their own laws, and to hear Jesus’ side of things before deciding what to do next.
And how did the Pharisees respond? They put Nicodemus on the defensive, accusing him of possibly being from Galilee, the same region where Jesus had come from. They said, “Look it up, Nick. No prophet ever came from Galilee,” expecting Nicodemus to trust their expertise. The truth was, throughout history, prophets had come from every tribe and region of Israel. They pretended to be the experts, but what they really were was defeated. They just weren’t willing to admit it.
As Christians, we’re supposed to be reasonable, willing to listen to wise counsel from others before we make decisions. Even when other people are unreasonable, we must always remember to cling tightly to the truth of God. The next time you find yourself in a disagreement with another person, listen closely to what they’re saying, and see if their words bring wisdom into the situation. But even if they say something crazy like, “You probably think you’re God,” don’t take the bait. Instead, take the high road and bring the Lord’s peace and calm into the discussion.
Reflection copyright © 2016 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.