See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
When challenged or confronted, who is the person you think of who just seems to possess grace and dignity and whose actions and words are always polite, tactful and well-mannered? Rather than to react in kind, their adversary appears foolish because the person either does not respond at all or responds in a confident, polite manner.
Here are a couple of humorous examples:
- October 21, 1984: In the second presidential debate with Walter Mondale, President Reagan was grilled over his age by an aggressive partisan reporter. “You already are the oldest President in history, and some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent encounter with Mr. Mondale …… Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances?” With a confident smile, Reagan replied, “Not at all, Mr. Trewhitt and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience……”
- About five years ago, I saw a rude and arrogant lawyer, who knew very little about the science behind ballistics testing, try to discredit a scientist through cross-examination. “Dr. A., there were two firearms found at the scene. Isn’t it true that even with all your years of “so called” experience, you cannot say for sure that the shell casing came from either of these guns.” The scientist calmly replied, “Thank you, counsel. The shell casing was ejected from the .40 calibur semi-automatic Glock handgun. Every firearm creates a unique indention into the back of a shell casing when fired. This shell casing was a perfect match to the Glock handgun that your client was holding when he shot the victim in his back as he was was walking away.”
No further questions, your Honor.
While these examples are light-hearted, most of our conflicts in life are more serious. There are family disputes, personal disputes, business disputes, etc. Oftentimes, dishonesty, false allegations, greed, and other dishonorable acts accompany these disputes. This behaviors can be one-sided or engaged in by both sides.
When confronted with the above scenarios, we come to a fork in the road of life. One road is steep, rocky, and arduous. This is the high road. The other is a gentle slope with a smooth, inviting surface. This is the low road.
As you can see, the low road is much easier to choose for most of us. This is because when we are challenged or confronted by another on the low road, we can become angry. Anger naturally leads to the desire to respond by using the same low road tactics our adversary is using.
So, why should we even consider taking this high difficult road? Because if we respond in kind, then we are no better than our adversary. We lose the moral ground which, based on my experience, almost always leads to defeat in any conflict both in and out of court.
Yes, choosing to take the high road can be extraordinarily difficult and unnatural. How can it possibly be done? While I have tried to take the high road during my life, I have slipped on many rocks and fallen to the soft landing of the low road. Each time, the steep climb back to the high road has been humbling.
However, while we are not perfect, the Christian author, Max Anders, has provided insight on how to remain on the high road under any circumstances. He suggests:
- Committing to placing high road conduct at the top of our priority list every day;
- Daily feeding our minds through studying parts of the Bible that help keep us on the high road;
- Asking God to remove our character defects that interfere with our walk with Him; and
- Trusting and waiting on God to bring about the type of personal change that makes taking the high road a natural and easy choice. This takes time; particularly for stubborn folks like me.
Since I began to follow these steps, I have noticed that any conflict has been much easier to navigate. I think this is because by staying on the high road, I don’t need to navigate at all.
God navigates for us.
He is calling on us to take a walk with him; on the high road.