Knowing right from wrong is important; knowing when we’re right but wrong is a fruit of deeper wisdom.
It is, you see, frighteningly easy to be “correct” on an issue but to be very wrong indeed in attitude and thus inflict damage on our own souls and collateral damage on the souls around us.
Being “right” and being “good” are not necessarily the same things, but I like very much the words of the little girl who is purported to have prayed, “Oh, Lord, please make the bad people good and the good people nice.” Out of the mouth of a babe some serious wisdom!
Perhaps we could pray similarly, “Oh, Lord, please help us to learn, when we’re wrong, to recognize what is right, and then, we pray, when we’re right please help us not to be insufferable about it.”
If, by God’s grace and power, our souls are growing in love, humility, and grace—then perhaps we can stand being “correct” and not incur the soul-withering damage that Satan most often inflicts on very correct people.
Of course, the damage the enemy can inflict upon us when we’re wrong is real and consequential, too, but of a far less subtle sort.
A person who knows that a tomato is a fruit may well pass an exam in Botany 101, but if he tosses it into a fruit salad in his Culinary Arts class, he should be tossed out on his ear. Then, if he responds appropriately to the situation, he just might be in a position to actually gain some wisdom that’s worth more than raw knowledge.
All of this leads me to wonder: Does the worst spiritual damage occur when we are correct on the issue and wrong in our attitudes (a very popular approach cherished by Pharisees throughout all ages), or when we are wrong on the issue but still manage to keep mostly healthy attitudes? Or if we just go all in and embrace the wrong view of the issue and pair it with an arrogant, malignant attitude? A wretched trio of choices, these, and all of their attendant mixtures, no better.
Perhaps the answer and the soul-prognosis lie in how completely we surrender ourselves to the tasty and tempting elixir Satan offers regarding issues and attitudes, and how deeply we quaff its poison. We do well to ask for God’s help in guarding our attitudes, most particularly, I think, when we are so confident of our correctness that we allow humility’s guardrails to give way and fail. The only safe course is to be truly surrendered to our Lord’s will, not ours, and thus become each day more like him, free to be our truest and best selves.
This really is serious stuff. Look at our politics. How hard is it to find a politician—or a sycophant follower of said politician—who, whether or not correct on a particular issue, manages to spread his diseased attitude more quickly than a kindergartner spreads chickenpox? Peruse a social issue or two or twenty. Watch as a church or denomination “splits the sheet.” More important, look at your own life—beliefs, actions, and attitudes. Oh, we can be ever so “right” and still be terribly wrong.
No one can snuggle up to a skunk—even one with impeccable views on politics, social issues, and even Scripture—and not end up with a smell that is far more noticeable than any pristine viewpoint perfection.
George MacDonald said it succinctly long ago, and it’s still true: “Attitudes are more important than facts.” And he’s right on both that fact and that attitude.
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent