When my brother and I were children, my mother would always attempt to settle our little spats by saying, "You both have the right to be wrong." Now, in the spirit of that sort of childish conceit that is especially magnified after one has just been contending with one's younger brother, I didn't understand what she said, and didn't much care to understand. But in the past two years or so, my eyes have been in the process of being opened by our Lord, sometimes in spite of me, and other times with my whole heart in it. I see now what it means to have the right to be wrong.
In Corinthians, there is a verse in chapter 6 that goes something like this: "Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" And that last line, why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? has been running through my head ever since I returned from my trip to London. Why, as Christians, do we hold so tightly to our "right" to win the argument? There is but one source from which this spirit flows: self-love. But so quickly we forget that we have been freed by the precious blood of Christ from the spirit of self-love! We have the Son of God Himself, the consummate Being of self-giving Love living in our hearts, and yet we allow our unrenewed minds to persist in the pride of always having to be right.
We say to others, "Read this Gospel tract; this News will change your life," or, "Let me tell you about a man named Jesus Christ; He is the one Who can turn your life around," and yet we "Christians" ourselves, who have already experienced this life-change do not exhibit the transforming Word we so often press on others!
Living rightly will be of no effect if one cannot love and suffer oneself to be defrauded. An exemplary life is but an eyesore if one always has to be right. As it says in James, Mercy triumphs over judgment. It may be true of us that we never swear, and abstain from media with corrupt content, and always tell the truth, and be transparent about our sins, and do all the right "Christianly" things, but if we cannot handle being wrong, it is of no worth. I am not saying that the commandments themselves found in the Bible are worthless. No indeed, the commandments are there for our benefit! But they are worthless if one performs them without the ability to admit one is wrong. Because to admit being wrong is to love someone more than yourself.
Can you attain that? Can you love someone more than yourself? "Peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die," but as soon as a man crosses us and makes us look as if we are wrong, or that we are less than perfect, our pathetic human love is snuffed cold and unrighteous anger quickly takes its place. No, we cannot attain that, but we must be willing to allow Christ out of us, Who can love more than Himself. After all, He died for you and me. We are not even very good people.
"If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me," says Jesus to the young rich man who insisted he had kept all the commandments since his youth. "Come and follow me," says Jesus, but to do that, that young rich man has to not only sell possessions, but any rights and respect he had garnered in the world. And away he went, sadly. It is no different for us. To follow Christ, we must deny ourselves daily, especially our right to win the argument. Let us not turn away sadly.
Credit is due to Paster David Gibbs for inspiring me to finally post this.
1 Corinthians 6:7
1 Corinthians 13:1-3