To Be Right or to Be Jesus, that Is the Question

“To be or not to be, that is the question,” asked Shakespeare through his character Hamlet, in the play by the same name. That’s probably both Hamlet’s and Shakespeare’s most famous line. But the question is incomplete. “To be or not to be WHAT?” What are we going to fall on our swords over this year? Being right or being Jesus?

When I was a teen, I was one opinionated bugger. Why shouldn’t I be? I thought. I’m right! And often I may even have been right, politically, morally, and spiritually. I was a Reagan-Republican, after all. I knew my Bible backwards and forwards. But I was missing something. In my self-righteousness, even when I got it right I missed the best. I so often missed Jesus’ heart.

If just being right is our goal, then we get really angry because everyone else is just so wrong. Just spend an afternoon on FaceBook and you’ll see what I mean. Being right, as an end in itself, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It takes a lot of energy arguing with all those people who just won’t get it, no matter how right we are. Maybe there’s a better way to change the world.

The Pharisees were totally right. Always, just ask them. They were conservatives who knew the Law, chapter and verse. They brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11), who according to the Law of Moses should be stoned. That was the “right” thing to do. (BTW, adultery’s not a solitary crime. According to the Law of Moses, the man also should be stoned [Leviticus 20:10]. I guess they rationalized that bit away – first clue they missed something – selective application of the Law. Being all men, the Pharisee’s probably rationalized excusing the man.)

But, fortunately for us, Jesus isn’t after right. He’s after best. The best does not violate what’s right, it supersedes it. You know the story, Jesus saved the woman without violating the Law of Moses. We should, too.

Jesus talks about dying to ourselves. In fact, he says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). But wait, that means denying my rights! That’s downright un-American. Was Jesus a communist or something?

No, but he’s after what’s best, not just what’s right, something better than what’s right. Sometimes, often, love means dying to our right to be right.

In high school, a certain bully was going to beat-up my friend Don. After successfully evading the bully one hot summer afternoon, Don drove past him walking home carrying a load of books under the hot sun. Don could’ve honked and waved as he drove by in his air-conditioned car. But he didn’t. He pulled over and offered the bully a ride.

No one was more surprised than the bully. The guy almost fell over. It took him a minute to realize the offer was genuine and Don wasn’t just goading him. “Why are you doing this? Why would give me a ride?”, asked one surprised bully.

“Because it looks like you need one,” my friend Don simply replied. The bully accepted, and they became close friends after that. (And nobody dared mess with Don again or the bully would pulverize them.)

My friend would’ve been within his rights to pass by the bully. But he correctly discerned the Kingdom of God had something better in mind.

This doesn’t mean we don’t hold people accountable when necessary. It’s actually love to hold criminals and abusers and narcissists accountable (1) to prevent future victims, and (2) so they have the opportunity to get help (if they don’t take the opportunity, that’s on them). It’s also love to discipline our children.

But in the common everyday stuff of life, mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13). The best triumphs over the right.

What about you? Does this resonate? Have you shown mercy and had it be better than the “right” would’ve been? Or have you had someone show you mercy when you didn’t deserve it? Tell us your story in the comments, and please share if you think this post would bless someone else.

The Pig I Have

A rural pastor was out visiting his peeps. In the course of chatting with a local farmer, he asked him, “If you had two cows, would you give one of them to the Lord?”

“Why, of course, Pastor. Absolutely. Wouldn’t even think twice about it,” responded the farmer.

The pastor asked another question. “If you had two sheep, would you give one of them to the Lord?”

Again, the farmer answered confidently and without hesitation, “Pastor, you know I would. I love Jesus and when he blesses me with a second sheep, of course he can have it.”

The pastor asked one more question, “If you had two pigs, would you give one of them to the Lord?”

This time, though, the farmer scowled and said, “Now just hold on a dadgum minute there, Pastor, that there’s not fair. You darn-good-and-well know I have two pigs.”

Sound familiar? Do we do that? Do we promise God what we hope he blesses us with, while withholding what he already has? I bet we do it more than we think, without even realizing it.

I’ll tithe once I can pay my bills. The truth is, you will never be able to pay your bills until you tithe.

I’ll spend time with the Lord once my schedule settles down. You will never be able to spend the time you don’t have with the Lord until you spend the time you do have.

I’ll take a Sabbath with the Lord once I get everything done. You will never get everything done until you start taking Sabbaths.

God doesn’t want the cow or the sheep we don’t have. He wants the pig we do have. God doesn’t want the 2 hours a day we don’t have to spend with him. He wants the 15 minutes a day we do have to spend with him but are choosing not to.

So often we take for granted what we have. We think, “Oh I’ll serve God when ________.” Fill in the blank for you. But he doesn’t want our promise to serve him later. He really doesn’t. He wants our obedience now, with what he’s already given us.

Jesus put it this way. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). And remember the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30)? The servants who were faithful with little were given more, and the servant who was not faithful with little, even what he had was taken from him.

So it’s really an opportunity to bless ourselves. Out of God’s great grace and mercy for us, he will never be give us more if we’re not faithful with what we already have. If we aren’t faithful with what we already have, more would destroy us, so out of his great love for us, he withholds it.

Ask the Lord, Is there anything I’m unconsciously withholding from you? Is there anything you’re consciously withholding? Will you go on this journey with us and offer it to the Lord, take the chance, and see where he leads it? It may not go where you expect, but it’ll be good.

So what do you think? Will you give the Lord the pig you have? Tell us in the comments and please share on social media (convenience buttons below). We look forward to hearing from you.