I grew up in a house….well, really, in an environment in general, where being right was usually valued over being kind, and the two didn’t often intertwine. It’s prophet syndrome at its worst, and while I think there are some situations where being right really is more important than being kind (and, of course, situations when they can co-exist), there are probably a lot more where being RIGHT is just not necessary.
I see this a lot in Christian circles, especially in very public issues that many Christians take for granted as having black and white sides. Politics, homosexuality, the role of women in the church, how to discipline your kids, etc. etc. It feels like many stand firm on this foundation of being RIGHT and don’t take the time to think about how that RIGHTNESS comes across. How being RIGHT, in reality, may actually be wrong because we are stating what we feel to be a blatant truth but in some very unloving ways.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. — 1 Co 13:1-3
B is teaching me a lot about this. As he gets older and asserts his will (or tries to), I’ve found that the sheer force of my will, my knowing that I’m RIGHT and he’s wrong (regardless of the level of truth behind that statement), is not something he can easily go up against and it frustrates him to no end. But I’m RIGHT! I’m the parent! He must OBEY! I not only heard this all.the.time when I was growing up, but it’s also the basis for many parenting books, especially those marketed to Christians.
The more I’ve noticed his frustration, the more I’ve been able to really look at the supposed black and white of parenting. The fact that I’m RIGHT and he’s wrong. And many times, you know….it just doesn’t matter. The fight, the frustration, the BEING RIGHT regardless of anyone’s feelings, is not only not worth it, but is also not something I’m interested in teaching my son.
Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. — Eph 6:4
God, of all beings, has every right to pull the RIGHT card in each and every situation, and yet there are countless times in the Bible when one of us children of His asks Him to maybe give things a second thought and change His mind? Maybe?
And He does. He did it with Ninevah. He did it with Sodom and Gomorrah. He did it with Hezekiah. He did it with the children of Israel (many times). I don’t know His reasoning for doing it, but I’d like to think it was out of love….hearing his child say, “hey, dad, can you maybe change your mind on this?” And He obliged because He’s especially fond of us.
The same is true in non-parental relationships too. Regardless of how right I believe myself to be, I’ve found that just letting it go is so much more loving, so much more healthy for relationships and so much more, I believe anyway, the way Christ wants us to be. I know there are definitely cases where there are absolute rights and absolute wrongs, but being RIGHT doesn’t win anyone to your side when they’re convinced they’re RIGHT as well. When you’re kind, when you show people that they, as a person, mean so much more to you than you being RIGHT does, than you may just convince them that you’re right without even trying.
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. — 1 Co 13:13
Always choose love and the rest will follow. I think that’s the best way to be RIGHT.