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  • Writer's pictureThe Well Community Church

When Were You Last Wrong?

Do you know what a litmus test is? It's a test where you dip chemically treated strips of paper into a liquid to determine the substance's acidity or alkalinity. As a saying, we call something a "litmus test" when it gives us an indication of a bigger trend.

I have a litmus test that I use when I do couple's counseling. It goes something like this: can you tell me the last time you were wrong? Most of us would say, "Well, of course I can." The follow-up question is "Can you tell me a time when someone gave you new information which forced you to admit you were thinking of something incorrectly?" That's a wordier question, but it's also more nuanced. I think this is a powerful question because it gives us an indication of how much value we place in our own opinion. If I am convinced that my position is always correct, then it either means I live a very sheltered life, or that I refuse to listen to any information which may challenge what I already think.

I suppose it is technically possible that you have always been on the correct side of every argument, but before I accept that explanation I'd want to talk to your friends and any significant others you may have. They may politely disagree.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8 This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

Sometimes saying "I'm wrong" or simply admitting that our information is incomplete presents itself like an impossible task. We get convinced of our own perspectives and fear the damage that correction may bring to our pride. Sometimes these feelings come in the form of braggadocios arrogance and other times it comes in quiet, fuax-humility which simply avoids confrontations. One more may be more "polite" than the other, but they share a sinister root cause.

We have to actively guard against the human tendency to trust in our own understanding; humans are notoriously emotional and simple-minded when problems may actually be complex and nuanced. Solomon warns against being to quick to rely on our own finite understanding and instead lean on the superior perspective of God. God sees that which we can not. God sees the outcome of our current circumstances. God sees the hearts of those we may be confronting. God knows our true motivations, even motivations we may not want to admit to others. If anything, we should be initially skeptical of our own understanding since, compared to that of God, we know so little.

So, the next time you find yourself relying on your own intellect or perspective of a situation, stop to consider what bigger picture may exist. Maybe spend some time in meditation and prayer. You never know what bigger things God may be trying to communicate through your situation.

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