The Arrogant Truth
Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods?” Genesis 31:36-37
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain
Recently, at the gym, I found myself at odds with my fellow gym-goers. Daily, there’s a workout on the whiteboard and I interpreted it one way. My friends were all wrong, interpreting it another way. I didn’t think I was too arrogant, but I was certainly swaggering with confidence when I asked the coach what he actually meant. It seemed that he too, was wrong, agreeing with my friends. So, I had to swallow my pride, receiving some justified razzing for my misplaced confidence. I was so certain that I knew the facts . . . but I was completely wrong.
Knowing the truth can easily lead to arrogance. When we’re right and we know that those who disagree with us are simply wrong, it’s easy to be condescending about our truth. Sometimes though, we’re the ones who’re mistaken. Even if we are truly right however, our arrogance corrupts our position.
In today’s passage, Jacob allowed a truth that he thought he knew to corrupt his behavior. In the story, Jacob and his wives, Leah and Rachel, fled his uncle Laban. As they left, Rachel stole Laban’s household idols, hiding them under her camel’s saddle. When Laban caught up with them, he searched through Jacob’s things. When he didn’t find them, Jacob berated him – If I took your gods, show them to me. Jacob was furious, offended at what he thought was a false accusation – only it wasn’t. Jacob didn’t know it, but he had the idols with him.
It’s not wrong to be sure of certain things. When it comes to our faith, we’re basing our lives on our beliefs, so we’d better be confident that they’re true. When it comes to disputable doctrines of our faith though, many of us will arrogantly cling to truths we think we know, belittling anyone who disagrees with us. Even if we’re right however, our arrogance corrupts us. In Ephesians (4:15), Paul tells us that we must always speak the truth in love. As Christians, we must carry the truth, but we must always do so as Christ did, with humility and kindness.
Even if I’d have been right at the gym the other day, my arrogance wouldn’t have endeared anyone to the truth. In that disagreement, only humility and love could have saved me from myself. It wasn’t being wrong that condemned me. It was my arrogance.