Monday, August 4, 2008

What's better than being right?

So I started thinking over the past couple days about how I always have to be right. And in some ways, that's what makes up part of my being a bruised reed. (As an aside, perhaps I should talk about that some time, a bruised reed, I don't think, always means someone who is down or depressed. It's more about the realization of the fact of being a sinner.)

I'm not sure if I mean that in the typical way. Some might say a man always has to be right, and mean that he'll defend his opinion at all costs. And in some cases, that might be true of me. However, I think I'm a little bit more subtle(?) I don't necessarily feel the need to defend my opinion, as much as making sure I choose right to begin with.

Let me give you an example. You and I could spend time arguing about whether engineering (in general) is one of the best bachelor programs. And I would enter that argument knowing that I would win. I could even take it a step further and tell you how Electrical Engineering is the chief engineering degree. Again, I would win that argument. However, these aren't arguments I get into often. Because proving to YOU that I'm right isn't really at the top of my list. However, proving to myself that I'm right is at the top of my list.

It comes down to the fact that there are certain things that are true, and I'll be sure to be on the "right" side of the truth. Now in reality, there are infinitely fewer things that are true than what I think. Is electrical engineering the chief engineering degree? Can we show that to be true with the same certainty that the acceleration of gravity on Earth is 9.8 m/s^2? Or can we show that to be true like the fact that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ? Probably not, the engineering thing is much a matter of opinion. But to me, it's not.

This plays out two ways, both of which are incredibly sinful. (By the way, the fact that I'm admitting that in a public space is a big deal to me, because it's not the "right" thing. It's not "right" or "good" to be thought of as a sinner. Unless it's properly understood).

First, and most obvious, thinking that your opinion is a matter of fact causes you to be harsh and unforgiving with others. Thinking that electrical engineering is the best engineering degree causes you to look at other engineers (e.g. civil engineering) as lesser students. You develop a hierarchy in your mind. This type of personality (if that's what it is) needs a "bad guy" a "fall guy." Or more appropriately, a series of fall guys. Did you graduate with a political science degree? How about English, or philosophy? Did you get a BA in French? If so, chances are, my friends and I made fun of you because of your "weak" degree.

Second, and less obvious, always being "right" brings about a feeling of self-justification. After all, God is truth, the Bible tells us this. So what could be better than being true? My doctrine was always right. My tithing was always the right amount. I always prayed the right way. I always said the right things. Isn't this what Jesus was talking about when he said "Many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name"?

If you were to pose this question to my wife and to me "What's better than being right?" She would, without pausing, say "love." I would say "nothing." And in this one question, I would be wrong. Ironical isn't it? The one who believes he's always right, gets the fundamental question wrong.

Yes God is true. Nothing is true apart from God. He desire pure doctrine. His Bible is inspired so that it will be true. Without truth false teachers pop up and bewitch the Galatians (and us.) Without truth, Gnostics take over the early church. Truth is important.

But, without Jesus, and his love, "I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."

There is a way to be true and loving at the same time. I'm not sure I've found it. I have found the way to make people feel completely unloved because of my obsession with being right and true.

What's greater than being right? Being loved.

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