When our kids are born, they’re perfect. Their cute little noses, tiny fingers and toes, and cuddles win us over. They stay where you leave them, cry when they’re hungry or need to be changed, and sleep a lot.
It doesn’t take long to realize that our kids are not, in fact, perfect.
This realization comes after things are broken, lies are spoken, messes are made, and drinks are spilled. If you think your two-year-old is perfect, please watch them eat some spaghetti. I promise you’ll see the evidence of their imperfections all over their face, their shirt, and probably the floor.
Honestly, most of us realize that our kids aren’t perfect, but have you ever noticed that our kids don’t seem to understand that sometimes?
You’ve told them the same rule a thousand times, but when they break the aforementioned rule and get in trouble, they claim to “not know I wasn’t supposed to do that.”
One of the best lessons we’ll ever teach our kids is that they are not right.
This is challenging.
It’s challenging because they are, at times, right.
But that doesn’t make them right.
A few years ago, I was visiting with my Mom and Dad. They were, as is very common in the Simmons family, arguing about something. I don’t remember what they were arguing about.
Arguing is a way of life in a Simmons family. I don’t mean that in a mean-spirited way (although we, unfortunately, have our share of these moments. Arguing for us is the passionate expression of our perspective, which often is different from those that we love. It’s at times very personal and at times, very comical.
As I watched my Mom and Dad argue, I listened in. I usually just tune them out, because their arguments are quite silly most of the time. This time I noticed something: They were both trying so hard to convince the other that they were right. They were both right in their own ways, but they were both incapable of seeing the other was also right.
We want to be right. Way too much of the conflict we initiate and participate in has to do with being right.
What if I told you that you, no matter how hard you try, cannot be right?
Towards the end of the book of Isaiah, the Prophet writes, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)
The New King James translates the end of that verse, “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”
Righteousness is a term the Scriptures talk about a lot, and it’s essential to have a good understanding of what the Bible tells us about being righteous.
The term “righteousness” literally means “the quality or state of being right”.
It is what we want, to be right. There is within our hearts, the embedded desire to get it right, to be right, and for others to acknowledge that we are in fact, right!
How many times have you fought for others to see that you are right?
The simple truth is YOU ARE NOT RIGHT.
This is very clear in the Scriptures. You and I, even at our best, are not right.
This isn’t a before Jesus and after Jesus issue. You most certainly are regenerated at Salvation as God gives you a new nature. Then you are charged with crucifying your old nature. That nature still lives in you, and you can respond to the desires of that sinful nature.
You aren’t right with God because you got it right. You and I are still learning how to get it right.
We’re not right. But… Jesus was right.
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
You’re not right.
Rightness is a gift you’ve been given from God because of who Jesus is and what He has offered to you.
How many times has the pursuit of being right dominated your relationships, headspace, and life?
I’m afraid it’s probably like me, too often.
Can we be real for a minute?
Isn’t this the stupidity of online arguments? That we desperately believe our perspective is right and others are wrong. We believe the world needs to know our opinion because we are right.
We argue about politics, but we refuse to understand the other side. Too often we’re highlighting the people who hold opposing views but are extreme in their positions. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about understanding that there are thoughtful, intelligent people who hold vastly different perspectives that you do. That doesn’t make them stupid or wrong. That also doesn’t give your grounds to offer correction without understanding.
Most of us have become so tribal that any different opinion seems oppressive and combative. We listen to people who say the things we want to hear on the radio, on TV, and on the internet. This tribalism is keeping you thinking you are right and focusing on how everyone who thinks differently is wrong by painting broad caricatures of those who think differently.
We argue about social issues, but do you realize that the generalities you make always involve a person? A living, breathing person who has feelings? A person created in the image of God? A person that we should desire good for? Why is it that we’ve made “keeping it real” a license to simply be mean?
Worse yet, isn’t this what happens with the people we love and us?
We argue with our spouse because they are wrong and we need to be right. Sure your husband left the toilet seat down, but does that really mean he doesn’t love you? Sure your parent’s forgot to be at an event that was important to you, but does that mean they aren’t there for you?
Why has being right become so important?
Why are we so willing to sacrifice genuinely essential relationships over the simple idea of being right?
When we’re willing to do that, our rightness is simply wrong.
LET’S DO BETTER
We expect our kids to understand that there’s a standard of rightness outside of themselves.
We discipline them when they cross lines, push boundaries, and break the rules. We don’t do this because we hate them. We discipline them because we love them.
Even though we teach our kids to see that there is a standard of right and wrong that exists outside of them, we too often try to live by determining for ourselves what is right and wrong.
We negotiate our morality, allow ourselves to live outside of what the Scriptures make plain and clear, and choose for ourselves what is right and wrong.
Let me be clear: If you’re choosing for yourself what is right and wrong, you are your own God.
We need a standard that exists outside of our tribe, our understanding, and ourselves. We need people who see things differently. We need a community of faith to encourage us. We need leaders to challenge us.
The temptation we face is the same temptation Adam and Eve faced in the garden. One tree was forbidden to eat: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God told them, “If you eat from this tree, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Satan’s temptation told them the trap, “Your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will LIKE GOD, knowing both good and evil” (Genesis 3:4).
“You’ll be like God”… There it is. You’ll be your own God.
Let’s do better than being so insecure that we need to be right all the time.
Instead, let’s place our security in Jesus, in whom we find our righteousness.
What would your life be like if you stopped caring about being right? How many conflicts would we ended before they start? How many relationships could be restored? How much peace could you find?
It all starts when you realize that you’re not right.
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What is one “rightness” you’ve argued about that you need to let go of?