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photo: karencastens           graphic: Martha G. Brady

I’m an oldest child. For many years, I felt I was right…about everything. If I wasn’t right, I needed to pretend I was. Bravado can often pull it off. It didn’t make any difference what the topic was, my perspective was right. If you didn’t agree or yours was different, it was simple. You were wrong! As I got older, I might not have said it that way. I might not have admitted it even to myself, but deep down inside, that was what I thought.

I learned I didn’t come close to knowing everything and carrying that burden took a heavy load off my shoulders!

Meeting my husband and marrying him started me on a different trajectory. I learned that not everyone thought the same as I did or came from my perspective…like my male husband! As time went on, I learned that was often a positive, not a negative. Learning to see problems and issues from different perspectives can be very helpful. People with whom I disagree often have valid issues even if I may not end up agreeing with everything they have to say. The differences we have add texture to life…just like in a painting.

It is important to listen to other viewpoints. They add help to make your opinion become more informed. It is also helpful to gather input from people from more than one generation…especially those who are older and have lived through lots of change! But this is not something that is natural for me.

As an older person, I need to gain input from younger people so I can communicate my concerns effectively…and often I find that they are more sensitive to areas I don’t think they are. They just have a different set of priorities…different, not worse…and a different way of expressing themselves. It is different, not better or worse than mine.

What price are you paying for being right? Is it worth it?

The other aspect of being right and making choices is what is the price you are paying for being “right”? What is it doing to the relationships around you? Is your rightness straining family relationships? What about work relationships?

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And what about your relationships at church? Rightness can be related to either insisting on things being done a certain way that you think they should be done, regardless of what the church leadership thinks. You can imagine the chaos that results if you multiply that thinking times the membership of the church! or even the membership of the leadership body (elders, deacons, church council, or whatever name you call them). There must come a time for submission somewhere as we recognize we are submitting to GOD ultimately. Of course, I am talking about using wisdom and discernment when submitting…not just submitting willy-nilly without a conversation.

Rightness can also be related to rightness in doctrine. I definitely have nothing against right doctrine…of course. The problem is that the Bible speaks about the need for balance. The balance of right doctrine with love for each other!

I Corinthians 13 isn’t in the middle of the passage on spiritual gifts (chapters 12-14) by accident. Paul, inspired by GOD, knew that there is no place that needs love, supernatural love, more than the church! We expect everyone to behave well in response to our human behavior. But our interpretation is most often a one way street interpretation. We want to be able to fail and be loved on, but when it happens to us, we don’t want to do the same. It doesn’t work that way! We all need to love, but we all fail.

In terms of doctrine, it is often a head thing. It isn’t supposed to be that way, but it often is. Love comes from the heart but is also volitional. It involves choosing to love when I don’t feel like it. The kind of love we often need from GOD is the kind that comes with His prompting, that moves us toward people we normally wouldn’t move toward. You know, the ones who make us uncomfortable.

But that is a story for another day. Today, the topic is my insistence on being right and the price I am paying for it.

What price are you paying? Has it hurt relationships? Have you learned to balance your desire for truth with what the Bible teaches about love?

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant
 or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

I Corinthians 13:1-7

**Some of these ideas came as the result of a recent sermon by Will Spink. But I can’t blame him for directions they went after they got into my head!