[I wrote this two years ago for our 40 to Life series at Legacy]
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” -James 4:1
I like to be right. Anyone who knows me well knows this about me. If there is something about which I’m unsure, I like to educate myself regarding the facts. The problem is, it doesn’t stop there. Even as I’m learning a new topic, I like to play “devil’s advocate” with people in order to uncover why the individual holds a particular view or belief. Often, I won’t let an issue go until I feel as if I have entirely communicated my view in a way so convincing that it will dispel the dissenting opinion of the other person. Being combative is a problem I’ve been working to rid from my pattern of behavior. I’m getting better.
What is the problem with needing to be right? It can damage relationships. I’ve come to the realization that a person who has a need to be the loudest or most authoritative voice in the room is not really seeking truth, but struggling with pride. Feeling like you have the truth while another does not brings a certain sense of superiority or control. Pride.
James 4:1 tells us the conflict of our inner passions leads to quarrels and fights. The Greek word James used which is translated as passions is the root word for hedonism, it means: selfish desires.
People have destroyed lifelong relationships, they’ve left churches, and entire churches have split over the prideful desire to be right (it’s never called pride– usually an admirable reason is manufactured). If you visit a Christian web site or social media page, it seems as though many Christian leaders are prowling for a theological argument. It’s a far cry from the unity Jesus prayed for among His followers (John 17:20-26).
Later in the same chapter, James presents the remedy for falling prey to our destructive behaviors:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” -James 4:7-8,10
Our desire should be to become more like Jesus, but we also have the inner conflict of our pride. We have these oppositional choices of either living for God or living for ourself. Our pride prevents us from submitting to God. Submission to God means that we will choose His will over our own. Practically, for those of us who struggle with the prideful desire to be right, this means we become people who listen in humility. We accept the fact that we may be wrong in our thinking-that we are not perfect.
The original leaders of the Restoration Movement, the movement from which Legacy Christian Church has developed, did not agree on a wide range of issues. Alexander Campbell thought Barton Stone was teaching a form of universalism, while Barton Stone thought Alexander Campbell was teaching legalism. However, they both agreed that unity among the followers of Christ was more important than their individual differences.
We must remember that the purest understanding of any topic, even scripture, doctrine, and historical context, is meaningless if we are not loving others as ourselves.