Why Is Being Right So Important?
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The necessity to always be right seems to be a sad reality of today’s culture. From arguments with your spouse to outright verbal battles over politics, religion, border walls, abortion, gay rights, health care, or climate change, we all seek to make the case that we are RIGHT! What about you: would you rather be right or be happy? Do any of us have all the right answers?
All of us have likely argued with a family member or friend and our insistence on being right ended up hurting them. Some of these arguments are over seemingly nothing. Two friends might recall the same event from 25 years ago and both remember it differently. Both will raise their voice and shout to defend their position and assure their rightness. Why is being right so important?
On a global basis, we can probably conclude that most acts of hatred, violence and wars have resulted from one side or the other asserting that they were right.
Mel Schwartz, a psychotherapist, speaker, author and marriage counselor states the following, “Our educational system is rooted in the construct of right and wrong. …….Being right affirms and inflates our sense of self-worth…….As students we learn to avoid as best we can the embarrassment of being wrong.” He goes on to make the case that if we are not right, then we are indeed wrong and being wrong comes with an accompanying sense of humiliation and failure.
Politicians and political parties always assert their side is right. Waring countries each assert they are right. But what about Christians, are we any better? Sadly, the answer is no! In fact, some of the most contentious arguments throughout history were between Christians.
Making the news this past week were stories about the schism in the Methodist Church. One headline read, “It’s Official: We Are The United Methodist Church That Hates Gays.” The article went on to state, “The name ‘Methodist’ will be now forever linked with bigotry, intolerance, and rampant, inexcusable ignorance about human sexuality and the nature of the biblical witness.”
Delegates at the church’s General Conference last week adopted several resolutions that reaffirmed the church’s longstanding position that homosexual activity was immoral, and it continued to bar gays and lesbians from serving as clergy, and it opposed same sex marriage. It should come as no surprise that each side believes they are right.
This is only the latest in a long line of fractures in Christianity. Let’s face it, we can’t even agree among ourselves as to the number of books in the Bible. We can’t agree on simple things like all Christians signing themselves with the sign of the cross. We can’t agree on whether Jesus should be depicted on the cross as a crucifix or whether it should be an empty cross. There are major disagreements over communion/Eucharist. Is it the actual body and blood of Jesus? Each side believes that they have the right answer.
Does life have to be this way? Do we need to always be right? Do any of us have all the right answers? Romans 12:3-8 gives us some great insight into this issue. In it we read, “For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned.” It continues by telling us that we are many parts making up one body. It tells us that all parts have a purpose but they are not all the same, nor do we all have the same gifts.
Saint Catherine of Siena wrote down that Jesus told her, “For I could well have supplied each of you with all your needs, both spiritual and material. But I wanted to make you dependent on one another.” In other words, by God’s design, we each only have partial insight.
Sirach 27:4-7 (one of those contested books of the Bible) states the following, “When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks.” It also says, “The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had; so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind.” James 3:8 says this, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
Finally in Luke 6:39-45, Jesus gives us this sage and timeless advice, “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”
I am not making the case that truth is relative. It is not! I am however, trying to make the case that it is through prayer and open Christian dialogue, where we listen as much or more than we speak, that we will ultimately find truth. We can disagree without being disrespectful. It is okay to admit when we are wrong.
Mindlessly choosing to win an argument at the cost of damaging our relationships seems pointless, especially among Christians. Lent begins this Wednesday. During this Lenten season, let’s try to take stock of ourselves and focus on trying to be “less right” and more “Christ-like” in all of our conversations. In the end, we are each just one puzzle piece in God’s jigsaw puzzle known as the Body of Christ. It takes every piece to complete the puzzle.
God grant me the wisdom to know that I am but one voice and my point of view is not always the right point of view. Help me to understand that the necessity of always being right often comes at the cost of hurting others. Help me to listen twice as much as I speak. Amen!
As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.
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You are RIGHT!
I hopefully have at least my part of the puzzle right.
It is fitting for you to quote Luke’s gospel concerning the beam in our own eyes as part of a larger discussion on our need to be right. Thank you for this harsh reminder.
It also brings to mind this profound thought from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn…
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Pray that our beam will be removed.
Thanks for sharing his quote. It does fit right into the message. God bless!
Praise God we can learn & be there for each other in the Body of Christ.
Thanking Him for the work He is doing in each of us.
We all know Satan delights in division. We must seek to find common agreements and work towards and pray for unity in the church. We must do all of that with our ever abandoning truth.
Between right and wrong where is Truth? How can one cling to the Truth without saying this is the right way? I want only to stick with Jesus so someone else’s salvation is not my business. But if you see someone going the wrong way, is it not a kindness to point out that danger lies it the way they are going? Not try to drag them away. They make their own choices.
The problems seems easy when it is between right and wrong, but far from easy when it is between two perceived rights. In most issues these days even among Christians both sides of a debate believe in their heart that they are correct and both sides believe they are following Jesus. This is where it becomes difficult. Both sides believe “truth” is on their side. While truth is not relative, by God’s design we all might only have part of the truth. Perhaps we need to listen closely to others to find all of the truth. Sadly religious wars have been fought over two sides each claiming the truth. The bottom line is we are not islands. We are puzzle pieces in God’s Devine puzzle of life. We each bring something unique to the table and we all need each other. Satan loves to divide us. We must strive to, as individual parts, make up the one United body of Christ.
Brian, thank you as usual for nailing it yet again. I recently experienced being a piece of the puzzle that made a difference in a mans life. Thanks for all you do! Mike
Great to hear from you. Thanks for your post. May God’s blessing be with you, now and always!
There is a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth–so we can listen twice as much as we speak!
This come to me at a perfect time as my husband and I are going through a very difficult time. Thank you for always sharing! this message has brought so much warmth to my heart in this desperate time. “Help me listen twice as much as I speak, Amen” I loved this!
Thank you for your post. May God bless and enrich your marriage and bring you both the grace to acknowledge mistakes and admit when you are wrong. May the Holy Spirit be with you. Together the two of you with God make a great puzzle.