Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More Important Than Being Right

A woman was walking across a bridge one day, and she saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So she ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!"
"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.
"Well, there's so much to live for," she said.
"Like what?"
"Well, are you religious?"
He said yes.
She said, "Me, too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
"Christian."
"Me, too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
"Protestant."
"Me, too! Are you Baptist or Lutheran?" she asked.
"Lutheran."
"Wow, me, too! Are you Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod or Evangelical Lutheran Church in America?"
“Evangelical Lutheran Church in America!"
“Me too! Was your predecessor church body the American Lutheran Church or the Lutheran Church in America?”
“The American Lutheran Church.”
“Me too! Do you believe in ordaining women?”
“Yes.”
“Me too! Do you believe in ordaining gay people?”
“Yes.”
“Me too! Do you use the old green worship book or the new red worship book?”
"The old green book."
"Die, heretic!" she said as she pushed him off the bridge.

We have ways of separating the people who have the truth from the people who don’t. If you think at all critically, there’s this little monitor you carry around inside where you’re always evaluating the things people say. Is this person lying to me? Is this person a little crazy? Most importantly, is this person right?

I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s really important to be right. And if I think someone is wrong, it’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut. I suspect I may not be alone on that. A little phrase from 1 Corinthians 8 that has come to mean a lot to me is, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” For me that translates: “It’s more important to be loving than it is to be right.”

Now, this isn’t an excuse for all us conflict-avoiders to escape confrontation in our lives. We still have to stand up for what’s right. Especially when other people are being harmed. Silence is never an option when other people are being treated unjustly. That’s not okay, and we have to confront it. But on so much of the other stuff, being right isn’t nearly as important as we’d like to think it is. And, in fact, a know-it-all approach with other people only serves to block any love that we might show them.

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
• Knowledge may tell a landlord that he or she technically should evict someone, but love says that if they do, that person will be out on the streets.
• Knowledge may tell us that we have no legal responsibility for the poor in our community, but love says they need our help.
• Knowledge may tell us that we are justified in raising our voice in an argument with a family member, but love says, stop talking and listen.
• Knowledge may tell us that international law justifies a declaration of war, but love declares something very different.

Can you think of things in your own life that your head says you have a right to do, but your heart says wouldn’t be loving? Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. It’s the difference between puffing ourselves up for the sake of asserting our superiority to others and swallowing our pride for the sake of love. Yes, there are more important things in life than being right.

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