Overcoming: The Love Of Rightness
A New Teaching Article On Overcoming
We love to be right. We love to be right even when we’re wrong, even when it hurts ourselves and others. This problem sits deep in our hearts. It’s rooted in pride. Our problem is not that we want to be perfectionists, so therefore we don’t like being wrong. Our problem exists in our fallen condition: We like to be right because we don’t like to admit we’re wrong, which comes from a lack of humility and a lot of pride. As someone once said, “The human heart is a factory of idols.” Let’s look at overcoming the idol of pride, particularly manifested in our love to be right— even when we may not be.
Before we begin, allow me to give an example of what this looks like practically. Suppose you and your child get into a fight over something that you know you’re right about (which in our eyes happens all the time!). But later you find out that it was miscommunication on your end; you just didn’t quite understand what they were trying to tell you (which happens all the time!). A lot of times we simply tell them that we now recognize what they were getting at, but we never go beyond that. And depending on the situation, it can be really hard to sit them down and explain that mommy and daddy are sinners and they too constantly need the grace and love of Jesus to help them admit their wrong. Unconfessed sin—i.e. not admitting we’re wrong—can cause damage to our relationships and weaken our spiritual appetite for Jesus and His Spirit.
The contrast to this is the person who quickly and readily admits their wrongs. We will look at four reasons why a Christian should possess a heart of humility by pointing out their mistakes, failures, and transgressions. Always looking deep inside the heart that has the conflict of wanting to do right but failing to carry it out (Rom. 7:18) is not an easy practice. But as we will see, a person in love with Jesus will have no choice.
1. Admitting Your Wrong is the Mark of a Knowledgeable Person
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Prov. 9:9 ESV). Both clauses say the same thing. Hebrew parallelism is a literary device that the writer of Proverbs often employs in order to cement truth. When we are confronted with what we have done incorrectly, we are faced with the reality of getting instructed by that person, whether it’s a child, an adult, a teenager, or an illiterate.
The idea is that the wise person will heed the instruction, and this would involve taking an honest look inside themselves and openly affirming that the instruction is needed and will be obeyed. The result is rewarding: they will increase in learning. Another way to express this is to say that admitting your wrong is the mark of a teachable person.
2. Admitting Your Wrong is the Mark of a Wise Person
“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise” (Prov. 15:31 ESV). This mark (characteristic) closely parallels with the last one. A wise person doesn’t go on their way thinking they are right. They listen. Often times what is spoken can be a harsh reality to the person who was convinced of something else. We love to be right! It’s in our nature. The Hebrew word for “reproof” (תּוֹכַ֣חַת ) is a severe reprimand, a stern rebuke of correction or discipline given to change the course of action for that person.
To some extent, even the secular world sees this as a mark of someone who is wise and/or humble. (I am not using humility and wisdom synonymously, but they are related.) In fact, in a lot of cases we see that those outside the body of Christ like to be labeled a “humble” or” wise” person because they have been quick to realize your correct position and therefore confess they were mistaken. But often times this is a façade. A wise person is someone who fears the Lord (Prov. 9:10).
3. Admitting Your Wrong is the Mark of a Meek Person
“The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel” (Isa 29:19 ESV). Although it is not expressly stated that a meek person is one who admits they are wrong, we can infer this from the definition of a meek person. A meek person is someone who views themselves rightly and then expresses that attitude towards others.
Some translations render the Hebrew word here (עָנָו) “meek” (ESV), “afflicted” (NAU), “humble” (YLT), or “downtrodden” (NET). This same word is used to describe Moses, which stated he was the meekest person in all the earth (Num. 12:3). And it is not hard to conclude why he was the meekest in all the earth. Moses is referred to as the one whom God talked face to face (Num. 12:8), as a man talks with his friend. He understood himself in light of who God was. A meek person understands their low position as a human being and expresses that attitude towards all people. That person will readily admit they’re wrong and humbly rejoice in the God who reigns over them.
4. Admitting Your Wrong is the Mark of a Person in Love with Jesus
“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy” (Ps. 116:1 ESV). The Psalmist loves Yahweh because He is merciful. When the Lord answers our cries for mercy, He responds to our pitiful condition. Mercy is God’s goodness given to a people who are in a miserable plight. Our response to accept that we are wrong in any given circumstance shows our love for Jesus because we are ready to call on His name to receive mercy for our failures.
A person enthralled with the love of Christ is not looking to themselves; they are not finding every reason to remain correct. Rather, they are finding every way to point to Jesus as the only perfect human being and as someone who they are constantly striving to imitate. If we never admit we’re wrong, and yet are constantly saying, “ Look to the only perfect Savior!” how do we expect others to not see our hypocrisy in our religion? We love Jesus, therefore “He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30 ESV).
In closing, I would like to bring one more thing to your attention. Admitting you’re wrong does not mean that you never evaluate another’s correction, reproof, or counsel. A knowledgeable, wise, meek, and person in love with Jesus will always test and use discretion in all situations. A Christian is filled with the Spirit of God to be led in life in order to be made fit for eternity. Remember, even though our sinful nature loves to be right even though we may be wrong, seek to be a Christian marked with knowledge, wisdom, meekness, and, most of all, someone who is deeply in love with Jesus.
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