It’s really hard to admit it, but I’m not always right. If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that one of my favorite phrases is “I’m always right.” Most of the time it’s in a joking sense, but sometimes it’s the true feeling of my heart. My way is the right way. My opinion is the most valid. What I thought turned out to be the best option. I’m always right.
But I’m not.
I may think I am. I may feel that my opinion is the smartest/best/easiest/actual fact of the matter, but in reality, I’m not always right. Even when I am right, I’m right in the most wrong way. And maybe you can relate.
Jesus was always right. There was never an instance in His earthly ministry where He was wrong. In every encounter, in every argument, with every response…Jesus was always right. Yet Jesus didn’t act like He was always right. Jesus didn’t parade Himself about, letting everyone know that they were wrong and He was right. Instead, Jesus’ attitude was a loving, compassionate, forbearing attitude. And it’s that example that I am to imitate. Because we can’t imitate Jesus’ always right-ness. But the attitude? We can definitely imitate that. Oh, and we’re commanded to.
In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul writes,
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
One way that Christians maintain unity and peace in their lives is by not acting like they’re right all the time. Instead, by ‘bearing with one another’ all the time. See, even in the first century, there were people who were easier to get along with than others. I’m sure the Jewish Christians preferred hanging out with the other Jewish Christians. I’m sure the Gentiles were more comfortable around other Gentiles. Slaves probably had more in common with slaves, and masters probably definitely wanted to hang out with their fellow masters. The thing is, in Christ, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11).
And so, in the verse immediately following, Paul writes to the Christians in Colosse,
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
Regardless of whose opinion is more valid, whose directions always end up getting you to the correct destination, whose way of doing something is actually more time/cost efficient, brothers and sisters in Jesus bear with one another. Even when those brothers and sisters aren’t like you. Especially when those brothers and sisters aren’t like you. That’s what it means to ‘bear with’. The word literally means suffer. You put up with it. You love them enough to overlook certain personality quirks. You deal with it, striving for peace and unity above your own comfort and need to be right.
The problem is, this is quite difficult. At least it is for my Type-A personality. But that brings us back to Jesus, our perfect example.
You see, Jesus was mocked while He was dying on the cross for those mocking Him. Groups of people yelled at Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” But Jesus didn’t snap back and prove to them He was always right. He didn’t jump down from the cross in a moment of pride. Instead, He prayed for them. He prayed that they might be forgiven. And then He silently bore it until He’d accomplished God’s will.
If we would all silently bear through and just do God’s will, we would all be doing well. I know I would be doing well to just be quiet, pray diligently for those who are really grating on my nerves, and love them enough to be compassionate toward them in their time of need.