We all want to be right. For some people the need to be right surpasses all other considerations. They’re willing to sacrifice people’s feelings, the tranquility of the family and relationships in order to be right.
It even goes beyond the satisfaction of knowing that they are right – they want other people to know they are right. They aren’t satisfied until other people submit to their arguments and give up. All of us can remember prolonging disagreements far past the point of logic just because we didn’t want to admit that we were wrong and we didn’t want to give our adversary the satisfaction of being right. Husbands and wives know what I’m talking about.
But is it always important to be right? Are there times when it would be better to let the issue go even when you know that you are on the right side?
The Apostle Peter makes an interesting statement in his epistle when he writes: And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, quoting from Proverbs 10:12). How can love cover a multitude of sins? Are we to overlook sin as if it’s not important? Not necessarily – sin is always sin and cannot be condoned. The point that Peter is making is that there are times when we should be willing to ignore what someone has done in the name of Christian love. It’s obvious from the text that this individual is wrong – they sinned. The Greek uses the most common word for sin here; this was not just something they did that annoyed you, they sinned against you. Yet we are told that if we really love them with the love of Christ we will overlook it. The word literally means that we will cover it up with the thought that no one else will ever know about it. There are times when sin is so grievous that it should not be covered up (recent events in our country are illustrative) but Peter is not talking about those. He’s taking about those times when we can insist on being right at the expense of love.
What Peter is saying is that there is something more important than being right. There’s something better than winning the argument, and that’s to act toward other people in a caring, loving way. Proverbs 17:9 says he who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends. The contrast is between seeking love and separating friends. One action is positive the other is negative. One is the highest goal (compare what Christ said about love in Matthew 22:34-40), the other the lowest. Apparently in God’s eyes it’s more important to ignore certain things in life than it is to always be right. That not only elevates love to the highest level but it demotes being right to a lesser level then most of us put it.
Make sure that the next time you are tempted to insist on being right regardless of the outcome that it’s not just for your personal satisfaction. Make sure that the situation wouldn’t be better handled with love.
Stay in the Word