March 24, 2017
“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Romans 1:17 (NIV)
My desire to be right is strong. Something in me always wants to prove my point, not make mistakes or let others see my weaknesses.
For years I gave into that prompting. But rather than making me look good, it had the opposite effect. It resulted in too many last words, over-quick responses and a guarded heart. It affected my relationships, because while it looked like righteousness to me, it appeared as judgement to others, unloving and self-centered.
Apparently I’m not the only one who wants to be right. Last year, I attended a conference where a speaker described three markers in our lives that guide our decisions: We want to look good, feel good and be right.
This was confirmed a few weeks ago when I fell down while leaving church. I was talking with my husband, looking up at him, when my foot hit a raised crack in the sidewalk. I had no chance to catch myself and went down hard … knees, arm, then face. The walkway was crowded and lots of people stopped to help.
Thankfully I was more embarrassed than hurt. My husband helped me up, apologizing for not catching me, and we left to join our kids for lunch. Other than a slightly red cheek, no one could tell I was hurt. But at lunch, I told my kids about the fall, and one of my son made a comment that confirmed this innate desire to look good.
He didn’t ask how I felt, or if I was in pain, he asked, “Did anybody see you?”
I had to laugh, because that was exactly what embarrassed me: Other people witnessed my fall.
Years ago I wouldn’t have laughed. My pride would have been so bruised, I probably would have ruined the lunch. But I knew my son cared about me, and his question was an honest one. It’s what we all think when we goof. Who saw it?
The Lord has done an amazing work in my life. He’s revealed my desire to always be right is based in pride, and that pride always sets itself up against others — first God, then those around me. It’s been a complicated process to uncover pride, but with God’s help, I’m learning to identify it and confess it quickly.
I’ve learned the hard way; God hates pride. Jesus’ harshest words were for those religious leaders who always wanted to be right and appear right. He knew their hearts were in the wrong place, and He called them out.
Jesus didn’t scold those whose weaknesses were evident. He didn’t shame the prostitute or the beggar. He didn’t publicly correct those struggling with sin. Instead, He welcomed them to come to Him and receive mercy and forgiveness. Jesus always led with love.
This longing to be right surely was put there by God. Except we were meant to desire being right with God more than man. Even then we mess it up by trying to do follow every rule, and make sure others do too. That’s not the kind of “right” God wants.
Jesus introduced the kind of rightness God wants and it is through faith, not works. As our key verse says, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:17).
Faith must come first if we are ever to be free of this unhealthy need to be right. When we stop striving to control every circumstance, and simply trust God as the Provider for all our needs, it becomes less about us, and more about others. Then we can love generously as Jesus did.
Whew! What a relief that is. It’s exhausting always needing to be right. And while there is a place to do things correctly (as in editing, which is my job) I can separate that kind of right, from the pride-tinged “right” and choose to live by faith in Jesus.
Lord, thank You for removing the expectations that I need to be right. Help me lead with love in every situation and put others before my need to look good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Titus 3:4-5a, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (NIV)
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Today’s devotion author, Glynnis Whitwer, is one of the leaders and teachers for COMPEL. If you’d like to stay connected with COMPEL, follow us on Twitter: @COMPELTraining.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Has your desire to be right ever led to conflict? What do you wish you had done or said differently?
Pride often sneaks in to try and fill a sincere need. What does your heart need today that Jesus can provide?
© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Originally published Friday, 24 March 2017.