The Wrong in Being Right
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2
I’ve been in recovery for a couple years, during which time I’ve asked many questions about faith and addiction. I’ve read through the Bible a couple times and I feel God has given me some answers. I’m thankful for that, but the problem now, is that I tend to think I have all the answers. Frankly, I can be a know-it-all.
Today’s passage speaks to this problem, to which Christians are particularly prone. As Christians, we believe in an unchanging God who has given us his word – the Bible – to follow. We believe it is our duty to carry this truth to the world.
The problem, is that though we carry the truth, we remain, individually and collectively, deeply flawed. Though we have come to know God, we still struggle with pride. The fact that we carry absolute truth, if we are not careful, can exacerbate that pride. I’m right. You’re profoundly stupid. We can easily stand for right, while behaving all wrong.
We should never apologize for the truth, but most of us should apologize for the way we have handled it. Frankly, many of us have used the truth to be condescending, judgmental and hateful.
Today’s passage provides the answer to this problem. If I want to carry the truth rightly, I must seek understanding. It’s easy for me to read a newspaper article and be judgmental of the addict who held up a local liquor store. What an idiot! When I meet him in jail though, and hear about his abusive, drug-filled upbringing, I gain insight and understanding into his life.
This does not negate the truth or turn wrong into right. Wrong is still wrong. In listening, loving and understanding though, I gain the ability to share with him what God has done for me. Tell me about yourself – is a much better place to start than – You’re all kinds of wrong.
If I want to share God’s truth rightly, I must remember that it is his truth, not mine. This is not about me being right. This is about loving my neighbor enough to try to understand him as I share God’s love and truth.