What’s the difference between agree and concede? In the dictionary, the Latin root for agree is ad gratus which means to please, whereas the Latin root for concede is concedere which means to yield.
Recently I was counselling a young man who was intimidating a friend to do it his way. The friend brought this to my attention so I spoke with the young man. His response was complete surprise that he was intimidating. From his point of view he said he had no idea; he had always considered himself soft and understanding. I suggested to him that I had noticed myself that he over-stepped his authority in regard to an issue with his employer. He then explained away why he had done what he had done at his employment, and right there I sensed his resistance to getting into trouble. Thus I now knew that his spirit was out of alignment with God.
Promotion blinds you to your sin
I then asked him had he promoted himself somewhere. He replied that he couldn’t think of anything. Then, after a pause, he said the only small thing he could think of that he had done was to call a woman stupid for not listening to her pastor when it was blatantly clear that she was sinning. I said that that small thing is all that’s needed to blind you to your own sin of prideful judgment, and once you’re in pride you can’t see your own sin and you won’t know you are intimidating just like the woman. The young man, by God’s grace, not only agreed with me but he conceded to my Godly message, and in so doing, all of a sudden, he could see that he had been intimidating and thus was able to find repentance.
There’s a massive gap between being agreeable and conceding to someone else’s point of view. King Saul finally agreed with Samuel when he realised he was cornered and he was not going to persuade Samuel to change his perspective, whereas David conceded to the prophet Nathan’s message from God. One was separated from the prophet and from God; the other was re-joined to the Lord.
Agree to disagree
In my experience, when someone is challenged by an authority about being wrong they don’t want to feel bad so they generally agree that they are wrong but in their heart they analyse that it’s not really how the authority sees it; that the authority is misinterpreting and misrepresenting the facts. Once someone chooses this route of self-defence it’s a real spiritual battle to get them to eventually concede.
The problem is that the human nature doesn’t like to be wrong. Human nature is ok if it can find someone else to share the blame with; then it doesn’t feel so bad, so it automatically blames and lies and distorts the information to support its case. Then, if it finds itself cornered, in order to have peace it agrees to disagree. The defensive equation is … I think you are right but I can’t see
it so I’ll withhold my opinion until I can agree with you. What they are really saying is … I don’t really agree that I’m wrong. This has been the inherent nature of man’s strategy to be right and not be told he’s wrong, starting back in the Garden of Eden.
But what if the authority is wrong?
The fact of the matter is that if you don’t concede to the authority’s opinion then you will never see what the authority is seeing. You have to concede to see. The bottom line is, non-conceding is really saying … “I make up my own mind and you can’t tell me what to do”. The real underlying issue in our hearts is “I am my own boss.” But what man fails to realise is that in standing on that belief you will never find God because He has instructed man to concede to authority. The peculiar irony of a genuine relationship with the Heavenly Father is that if you approach all authority from the direction of conceding you are approaching it with God’s eyes and therefore if the authority is wrong you will know and ultimately you have the freedom to choose not to concede.
Thus, conceding is the separation point between a genuine Christian and a fake. A fake Christian may agree but they won’t concede (these are the tares), whereas a genuine Christian may disagree but will come to a point of conceding. Their hearts are different.
Standing on different sides until you concede
Failure to concede will put you on opposite sides to the authority. You can’t just be agreeable and expect the relationship to hold together. Eventually your resistance to conceding will force separation because your real points of view will be opposite.
If you can’t admit you were wrong without a qualifying ‘but’ or an ‘explanation’, you will never be right (spiritually) even if you are right physically.
Few know how to bend their heart
Our humanistic modern society does not condone smacking or even telling a child that they’re wrong and has even passed laws forbidding parental discipline. Consequently, children are growing up thinking they are right and good without any ability to bend their heart to accept that they’ve done or thought wrong. If they are challenged about being proud, the nasty ones bite back, but the nice ones use their reasoning to fix feeling bad by being gooder and by being agreeable. They can’t handle being wrong. They can’t handle feeling inferior. They don’t know how to concede.
I righteously fear that this inability to bend one’s heart is a sign that God has sent the ultimate famine … the inability to see and hear the true Word of God (Amos 8:11).
Pastor Mike Stanford