Am I Always Right?
(Post 3 of 5)

 

Image of presenter's slide entitled Why I'm Right and You're Wrong listing 4 bulleted reasons but the slide has a big red X indicating that we shouldn't talk this way

I’m a faith blogger. I develop and lead Bible studies. I published 2 small group study guides and I’m working on a Christian non-fiction inspirational book. I spend a fair amount of time studying the Bible. God wants me to teach. I know this without doubt.

But I’m also more tempered today than I was 20 years ago with the words I pen and the studies I facilitate as I consider: Am I leading people in the right direction? Am I honoring God’s Word and His character within my circle of influence? Do I represent biblical truth in ways that move people toward the true God, or do I leave them to piece together ill-conceived notions about Him?

The fact is: my understanding is not perfect. It’s not even close. It's impossible to fully understand God and His truth (Romans 11:33-36 and Isaiah55:8-9). We cannot compare to God. He transcends us in every way (Isaiah40:12-26). And as I study and reflect, I realize there is always more to learn.

 

This post offers a deeper look at Life Pursuit 2 in The Most Important Life Pursuits. Life Pursuit 2 is: Be less adamant.

 

Be less adamant because we can’t know it all.

We fall short of knowing and understanding truth and life as God designed and purposed, so why do we sometimes think we know more than others? Why are we tempted to lord our opinions over the people around us, the people we work with, those of a different economic status, or those who have opposing political positions? Have we considered that maybe we don’t know as much as we claim? Do we realize that viewpoints and perspectives of others are probably valid? And not just those of fellow Christians, but also of non-Christians?

Let’s read one of the references I listed above:

 

Romans 12:33-34

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

 How unsearchable his judgments,

 and his paths beyond tracing out!

 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?

 Or who has been his counselor?”

 

"Who has known the mind of the Lord?" Surely, not us. Which of God’s unsearchable judgments have we discovered and understood on our own? Our answer should be none.

And we’re not banking up points as a result of any sage advice, godly anecdotes, or profound opinions we convince people to adopt.

 

…continuing to verses 35-36

“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

 

All glory belongs to God. All wisdom comes from Him. We receive our knowledge and faith from God as gifts.

Friends, we must be less adamant about our conclusions and opinions. I’m not saying we can't get to know God. I'm not saying we shouldn't stand for truth and trust God to answer our prayers and fulfill His promises. I'm not saying we shouldn't speak out for Him. I’m saying our knowledge is a work in progress. Our faith falls short. We’re not always in sync with God, and our tendency is to fall out of sync. This is who we are. We’re not always right, and we’re sometimes wrong. Maybe we’re often wrong.


Our knowledge is a work in progress.
Our faith falls short.
We're not always in sync with God,
and our tendency is to fall out of sync.
***

 

Be less adamant because nobody likes a know-it-all.

We often find (or force) ourselves in the position of Bible teacher. Listen to what James says about teachers:

 

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers,
because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

James 3:1

 

Our teaching is scrutinized by God.

James followed up verse 1 with a discussion on the power of the tongue. Its “a world of evil among the parts of the body” (James 3:6). Many animals can be tamed, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

This is what an overly adamant Bible interpretation is: “a world of evil among the parts of the body,” and “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Even a very solid interpretation can be “full of deadly poison” if it is presented by a know-it-all who lacks grace and compassion. When both fresh water and salt water flow from the same stream, it’s really just salt water (James 3:9-12).



When both fresh water and salt water
flow from the same stream,
it's really just salt water.
***

Why do we express our beliefs and opinions so strongly? Is it for the benefit of others? Is it to glorify our God?


Some final thoughts

When we set out to teach or to present our biblical perspectives, do we do so with humility? Do we consider that our understanding is faulty? Do we recognize we are human and we don’t have the mind of God?

Proper Bible interpretation and teaching it well does matter because the eternal fate of others and ourselves depends on it, but we can be so adamant about our beliefs that we hurt another person’s mental and spiritual wellbeing (Romans 14:1-15:13). People matter (see my prior post). We might push our beliefs so belligerently onto others that we cause arguments, division, hatred, violence, or worse…and we might even enjoy it. God forbid that we seek out victims just to fight with them (verbally or otherwise). Haven’t we all seen this and perhaps experienced it firsthand?

Here’s the bottom line: We can turn people away with a know-it-all attitude. If we really want people to know and trust the love and sacrifice of Jesus, shouldn’t we represent Him with grace and gentleness? We want them to grow fond of the Savior, don't we? Isn’t their relationship with Jesus more important than our desire to be right?


Chives: Adding a touch of the gospel is like adding chives as a last minute spice or a pleasant garnish (Colossians 4:6, Romans 10:14, 1 Peter 3:15)



I’ve had some interactions with naysayers on Twitter. They usually pose a seemingly honest question but what they really want is a debate. I typically respond. I proceed with caution and compassion because the other person may be sincere, but also because I want anyone else following the conversation to hear God’s truth seasoned with grace and sincere care. But if the interaction does develop into a debate, I bow out for lack of common ground. I would probably lose the argument anyway, but there are never really any winners in a debate. A wedge is not the same as a win.


I’ll close with a quote from my introductory post to this series:

 

I imagine someday after I see Jesus face-to-face, that I will look back at all I have written in His name and recognize much that I misunderstood. May we teach, lead, and encourage others with humility, because we don’t understand all of God’s Word and His ways.


-----

 

Read the other 3 life pursuits and the intro:
Intro: The Most Importan Life Pursuits
1. Do We Value Others?
3. Align with God
4. Trust Jesus. It's Time.


If you have questions about Jesus and His gift of salvation, a truth that God made very clear in the Bible, please email me at authordlv@att.net.

Read more blog posts here.

 

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Comments

  1. Great points Stephen. I think along the same lines, am I portraying God correctly. Great quote too. Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting, Yvonne. It is so easy to misrepresent our God. May we improve with each passing day.

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  2. An excellent post, Stephen! The points you make are absolutely essential for Bible scholars, teachers, and leaders to apply. These are doubly important for writers who fit into the above categories, for written words usually go farther than spoken words (unless they’re in podcasts), and what we think and write are preserved for years. This is one reason that humility is so essential, why we research and edit and study, and then why we maintain humility and welcome criticism should we err or not get a spiritual truth exactly right. All of us are works in progress. Consider the apostles of Jesus, who still needed instruction and explanations even though they had been taught by Jesus himself. If they can err, so certainly can we. I love the spirit of humility with which you wrote this post, Stephen.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your encouragement, and what you say about the written word is increasingly true, Melinda. They are potentially reviewed for good and otherwise. And with our cancel culture these days, the effects of our words can vaporize or turn on us in seconds, though our words remain. How important it is to present God's truth, and especially correct ourselves, with humility and reliance on the Holy Spirit. Jesus prays for us as we follow Him. His prayers and support help us in ways we often can't recognize. We are so dependent on Him.

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  3. Stephen, this is soo good! You immediately hooked me when you said "I'm also more tempered today than I was 20 years ago with the words I pen and the studies I facilitate." May that be said of me as well!
    And I love how God affirms certain topics for me. I'm working on a series of posts inspired by quotes from the series The Chosen, and my post in 2 weeks is on this exact topic, including referencing Romans 12:33-36! With your permission, I'd like to add this quote from you (with a link back to this post): "I imagine someday after I see Jesus face-to-face, that I will look back at all I have written in His name and recognize much that I misunderstood. May we teach, lead, and encourage others with humility, because we don’t understand all of God’s Word and His ways."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ava. Yes, of course you can include my quote and link. This is such a necessary topic for all to consider. I used to be pretty hard-headed and arrogant and I have recognized how I've hurt people because of it, including friends. Changing in favor of humility and compassion is a slow process so the sooner we start, the better. Thank you for visiting and I'm glad you can supplement the Chosen with written words. I pray many will be blessed through your series.

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  4. Stephen, I like your thoughts that our knowledge is a work in progress. And we lead and teach and interact with others about spiritual and biblical truths with humility leading the way.

    "We can turn people away with a know-it-all attitude." Yes!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Karen. The way we present the truth is part of the message. We stand for the truth and we're learning more as we go, but may we never turn people off with our attitudes. Thank you for visiting.

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  5. I feel exactly the same way!! I'm learning so much humility and compassion as I grow older and am much more tempered. I believe it's more attractive in spreading the Gospel... people are more receptive when I'm not so "full of myself."

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    Replies
    1. This is good to hear, Jessica. The message is so much easier to receive when it's packaged in humility. I've sat under arrogant preachers, teachers, and worship leaders and it's hard to get past the person to get to the truth.

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