Four little words. So hard to say. They catch in our throats, choking and sour-tasting. We’d rather just walk away.
But there are other words niggling at the edge of our thoughts that won’t let us.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV 2016)
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18)
“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)
You’re wrong, I’m right.
So much easier! Feels so much better, doesn’t it?
Maybe in the short term.
That warm glow of self-righteousness oozes throughout, saturating our brains with endorphins that bump up the self-esteem, further convincing us of our rightness.
But, as with all temporal things, the satisfaction is short-lived. The damage done to our relationships? Maybe not.
Why is it so hard to be wrong? So hard to admit it?
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
That’s a tough one for most of us, even as believers. It is our natural bent to think rather highly of ourselves. Although few of us are so bold as to actually claim we have all the right answers, we don’t like it when we find ourselves in a position that proves we do not. We at least want others to think we do. Pride rears its ugly head, stiffens our necks, and there we are, refusing to back down. Even though we know we are wrong. We can’t even be right graciously.
“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:6)
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)
Nowhere in the Bible will there be found any instruction to exalt ourselves.
“May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, ‘With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?'” (Psalm 12:4)
“Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.” (Proverbs 21:4)
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 26:12)
But we still do it, don’t we? We really do want it to be all about us.
Thank God for his Holy Spirit that lives in us.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
Dear one, if you struggle with this, be assured you are not alone. We all struggle with this and many other challenges. There is no remedy other than to drench ourselves daily with the cleansing Word of God and surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit. We must choose to submit ourselves to God before we will be able to submit ourselves to others. Pride and self-righteousness are stubborn adversaries, well-armed by Satan himself.
Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the whole armor of God for a reason. God’s armor is impenetrable. It reminds us that the battle is not against flesh and blood. It’s not against each other. But this armor needs to be put on every day. We need to surrender every day to the Lord, asking him to guide us as we go about our business, asking him to strike down the sins of pride and self-righteousness.
Maybe we’ll have to say, “You’re right, I’m wrong.” Maybe we won’t win the argument. Maybe we’ll have to admit we don’t always have the right answer. It is much better to be exalted by the Lord than to exalt ourselves.
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)