We live in the age of opinion—strongly held opinion!
Listen to the conversations at school. Flip through the channels on tv. Scroll through the “news” feeds about politics, sports, cooking, celebrities, you name it—and you will encounter an avalanche of opinions.
Can you tell the difference between opinion and fact? Listen for it. More and more, people are stating their opinions as if they are facts, and more and more, those opinions are less and less factual. Yet despite being poorly informed, many people’s opinions are still highly judgmental, and vehemently expressed.
Believe it or not, life wasn’t always this way. A lot of people went around not having opinions about a whole lot of things.
It simply wasn’t common to form opinions on every little thing—the brand of handbag that celebrity carried, the casting choices for the new superhero movie, the president’s awkward comment at a campaign rally, and on and on.
When someone did have an opinion on an issue of some importance, he could tell the people around him. In rare cases he might speak at a town hall meeting or write a letter to his local newspaper in hopes it would be published.
But then came cable news and talk radio. Then came the Internet. Then came social media. Now every person and his pet parakeet has the means to broadcast his opinions to the wide world. All over cyberspace, in every chat forum, after any given news story or blog entry, on every social media page, you can expect a deluge of strongly opinionated and poorly informed comments. It’s so bad that many mainstream websites have hidden or removed their comments features.
This world is full of “minds clashing with minds,” Herbert W. Armstrong said. Technology has made these “minds clashing with minds” viral and rowdy. Don’t worry about fact—just react! The fact that you don’t even have to reveal your true identity on the Internet encourages people to make impulsive comments based on unbridled emotion and extreme views. Feelings reach red-hot levels as people tap and punch away at their phones or keyboards. Anyone itching for a fight has one at his fingertips. People freely attack each other, lacing their remarks with arguments and insults. It’s the Wild West: all fisticuffs, brawls and showdowns at high noon—like an old-time cowboy movie where someone in the saloon throws a punch, and suddenly the whole place becomes a blur of flying chairs, crashing bodies and broken tables.
Unsurprisingly but sadly, these tendencies have seeped into real life. Now it seems everyone is a professional analyst and commentator in his or her own mind. Everyone is addicted to offering his two cents.
Have you noticed this? Have you gotten caught up in it?
Consider stepping back, quieting down a notch, and learning when and how to form an opinion and properly express it.
There is a real gem of wisdom in Proverbs 15:2, which says “the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.” Many issues that inspire fierce debate today are simply pointless and meaningless—not even worth wasting opinions on. A whole lot of foolishness is being poured out—and this scripture candidly and accurately labels the people who are doing the pouring.
So many people make strong judgments based on hearsay, misleading evidence and incomplete information. Regarding this tendency, Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” If something really is worth forming an opinion on, then before you make a judgment, be sure you have correct information, and enough of it.
Even when you are well-informed, that doesn’t mean you are obligated to announce it. Proverbs 17:27 says, “He that hath knowledge spareth his words.”
On a great many topics, nothing says you must have an opinion or, if you have one, that you must express it. Those who simply express whatever comes into their minds are often motivated by vanity and self-aggrandizement (Proverbs 14:3).
Being too quick and too comfortable with letting your opinions flow will get you in trouble. As Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise” (New King James Version; see also Proverbs 13:3). Learn the skill of checking and restraining what escapes your mouth. James 1:26 says if you don’t bridle your tongue, you deceive your own heart, and your religion is worthless.
The Apostle James also wrote, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (verse 19; English Standard Version). If everyone followed this advice, our world would enjoy a whole lot less arguing and a whole lot less division between people.
Many people have come to believe: “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.” They are entitled to their opinion. But you will find life gets better when you value truth over opinion. Heed the Bible’s wisdom: Be quick to listen, not quick to judge. And make sure there’s a filter on what comes out of your mouth. Focus not on expressing your thoughts, but on improving them.