Unless you’re the cream filling of an Oreo, being in the middle is not pleasant. Comfortable or not, we will all find ourselves planted firmly between opposing sides at some point. Typically we gravitate toward one side; aligning ourselves with the party that is closest to our own fundamental viewpoint. Every once in a while, you can see both sides of the argument and see the wisdom in not engaging in the conflict. And then the irony strikes … by not engaging directly you get to play mediator. The horrible truth of being a mediator is that the only way to be effective is if both parties choose to bend. In a world of immediate gratification and persuasive entitlement, compromise is suffering the same death as chivalry and sacrifice.
Why has our self-worth become intertwined with how many times we are proven right? How many arguments are spurred on over the desire to have the other person admit that they were wrong? The pursuit of peace has been replaced with the pursuit of happiness. We have bought into the ideals of society that unless we prove ourselves right we will be presumed guilty, or at the very least less than. This is one more misdirection crafted by the enemy with a desire to move us into selfishness, and unfortunately it is working.
To say it bluntly, the need to be vindicated and proven right is a form of self idolatry. Yes, it’s a natural desire of our flesh to be found blameless. Yes, it isn’t fair to be falsely accused. I would even go as far as to say that it’s downright reprehensible to be on the receiving end of a lie or slander. But being wronged doesn’t give us the right to conduct ourselves inappropriately. If our desire to be vindicated takes our eyes off of God is it really worth it?
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” – 1 Peter 3:8-17
Our thoughts are a precious investment in our future actions and reactions. The more we invest our thought in imaginary arguments, the more prone we are to be aggressive. The more thoughts we invest in fear, the more anxious we will become. But, the more we invest our thoughts pondering God’s word, and how to actively live out our faith, the more we will reflect God’s love and peace. I guarantee that everyone around you has faults and shortcomings. I guarantee you that at some point you will be on the receiving end of an injustice. I guarantee you that you will be faced with the choice to pursue peace or pursue vindication. I also guarantee you that what you choose will be a reflection of what you have been thinking about long before the choice ever presented itself.
What we allow into our thoughts will take root in our hearts. Do you want to be right or righteous? Think about it.