When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire. (James 3:3-6 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James%203)
I once took an online personality test just for fun. The result: “You are a haughty intellectual. You think you know everything…and you probably do.”
All joking aside, there is something that really bothers me. Quite a lot, actually. The fact that I often have this insane thirst to be right. I recently asked a friend if she thought I had a strong personality. Her response? “You give off the appearance of being open-minded…but secretly, I think you’re set on your own opinion. You may ask others what they think and appear genuinely interested, but inwardly, you’re sort of hoping they will agree with where you’re thoughts lie.” Wow. Guilty as charged.
I think we all have a tendency to do this from time to time. We’ve formed an opinion on something perhaps from our own personal life experience, from our educational background, or perhaps even from a deep study of Scriptures…and when someone else come along and rocks our boat, we’re stuck trying to figure out how this all works out.
It is an incredibly sad reality, but I’ve seen wonderful friendship and beautiful marriages struggle, and sometimes even fall completely apart because the other person felt they had to be right all the time. Perhaps there were signs along the way. Gentle hints or suggestions to change the topic and move on to something else, but because of the person’s internal love of debate… they kept at it. They would rather be right and lose a friend than wrong and keep a marriage.
This week, I’d like to give you a challenge. For the sake of love, of peace, and of friendship… just for the next 7 days hold your tongue. Suspend your need to be right. Avoid pointed questions, uncomfortable stares, or non-inclusive gestures. Resist your desire to debate and prove the other person wrong. When your spouse asks you to help in a way you’d rather not, do it cheerfully. When your friend seems to go around in circles, politely smile and nod. For one week, resist any urge to participate in judgementalism, legalism, or any form of “know-it-all” behaviour. You might know more about the topic than your friend does. Maybe you majored in it. For this week, pretend that you don’t. See what a difference this will make in your friendships and in your marriage. See how it might change how you view or respond to others. Begin thinking of other people’s opinions as just as valid (if not more so) than your own. Consider their preferences, their wishes, their hopes, and their dreams…not just where you feel they should be headed or what you feel they should be doing.
I’ve often said I love a good debate. Being academically inclined, I love reading books from all angles and often try to understand the opposing viewpoint just as much as the one I already hold. That being said, I have discovered over the years that my “love for debate” is really not a love for a debate at all. It’s a love for being right. A love for trying to get other people to side with me. And the very reason for that love is because of my own insecurity and my own pride. You can be addicted to being right in the same was as you can be addicted to coke and heroine. It’s a drug that gives you a high. But it’s not the kind of drug Jesus wants us to take. Jesus wasn’t a drug addict, instead He believed in fruit. Fruits like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. So this week, when you’re tempted to be right and to fly into lawyer mode, take a deep breath. Practice patience and kindness instead. I look forward to seeing where this challenge will take you and how it will deepen your relationships with those who are closest to you.