Ferguson. Charleston. Gay Marriage. Immigration. Obamacare. Abortion. Common Core. Global Warming. Confederate Flags. Parental Discipline. Non-Traditional Churches. Rich Pastors. Vaccinations…
There’s no shortage of topics, which on any given day can clog up a newsfeed faster than an unsupervised boy can clog a toilet. In fact, a lot of the opinions expressed in such common blogs, articles, and posts are much like that bathroom—messy, damaging, and subject to scrutiny.
My concern though, is that when we indiscriminately share opinions, we are doing greater harm than we might realize. There are 3 potential consequences that you should consider before oversharing opinions, especially when no one has asked for it!
Consequence #1: people may brand you as a “know it all.”
Unsolicited opinions reek (you get it? it smells bad!) of being close-minded and unwilling, if not incapable, of engaging in meaningful discussion or debate. Typically, an opinion is rendered after various aspects have been thoughtfully considered. When we frequently express our opinions, it is as if we broadcast to the world, “I have sufficient knowledge of this matter and have come to this conclusion.” Stating an opinion is an endpoint…not a starting point.
We can’t be expert on every subject. We can’t know it all.
Consequence #2: people may reject your future advice, even if it is sound.
Many times, we can offer a great perspective on an issue and empowered by the Spirit can speak great truth and wisdom benefiting the listener. But when we spew everything we think on every issue we think about, it’s like diarrhea of the mouth (I’m committed to this bathroom analogy)… once we start, we don’t actually know when or how to stop! This is a huge barrier for anyone seeking a fresh, honest perspective.
Consequence #3: people will assume you are a simpleton. Or worse.
Proverbs states “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.” Being more interested in giving opinions as opposed to gaining knowledge are the earmarks of the fool. This is damaging to your credibility and the impact you are hoping to make with your peers. Listen more. Talk less.
Consider the story of Job and his friends.
When his life had fallen apart, having lost his children, his wealth, his reputation, and his health, he sat mourning, filled with grief and anguish. His friends visited to comfort him but eventually felt they had to say something…
One friend suggested that Job has done something wrong deserving such misfortune. He quickly advised, “If it were I, I would appeal to God. I would lay my cause before Him.” (Job 5:8) Not exactly terrible advice, but he sounds like a “know it all” as he promptly suggested a solution.
The next spoke up implying Job’s deceased children must have somehow sinned against God (Job 8:4). And a third friend presumed that Job must have even mocked God to deserve such an appalling fate.
They didn’t know the facts. They didn’t know that these turn of events resulted from a conversation between God and Satan. They didn’t know that God considered Job an exceptional man: “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8
Most people know that not only was Job’s reputation restored, so was his wealth, his family, and his health.
What most people do NOT know is what God had to say about his friends! “‘I am angry with you and your two friends… My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.” Job 42:7-8.
Catch that? God called their actions folly… foolishness.
I am concerned and convinced that as a society and more importantly, as Christ followers, we have gotten carried away with opinion sharing. I am not suggesting that we do not stand up for truth or share the gospel with others. However, we often fail to see the line between truth and opinion and there are indeed consequences to over-sharing those unsolicited, uninformed, and unhelpful opinions.
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to [post] and remove all doubt of it” Maurice Switzer, (if he were alive today…)
Tell us what YOU think…Yes, I am now asking for your opinion! Do you think oversharing opinions has been damaging to yourself or to others? What can be done to avoid some of the consequences mentioned above?
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