Even when I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. We’ve been remodeling our home for the past month. So near the end, I can’t express how eager and ready I was to move my family in. We’d been staying with my wife’s family. They are incredibly generous and great hosts…but it is never as comfortable as your own place. Our kitchen appliances had been ordered a month out and were scheduled for delivery the day we planned to move in. As the delivery truck pulled into the drive-way, I could see the light at the end of the remodeling tunnel. As the rear doors opened to the delivery truck, our stove was no where in sight. Somehow, during the past month, our stove was backordered and no one informed us. Honestly, my frustration peaked! We ordered it a month ago! Someone messed up and I was paying the price!
I was completely in the right. I had the order slips. I knew the purchase numbers. I had the guarantee. I had all the right answers. The store should have been on their knees apologizing and making amends. I was right…but I was so wrong. I let my frustrations be known in maybe not the most polite ways. I didn’t drop any foul language…at least audibly…but I expressed one heck of a selfish attitude.
I was right, but I was so wrong. I realized how wrong I was when it came time for simple chit chat and I was too embarrassed to admit I was a pastor. Here I am, a leader of Jesus-followers, and I demonstrated little proof that I personally follow Jesus. I had all the right answers…but with my wrong attitude…those right answers meant little. I failed to lead with love.
We all long for a “Happily Ever After.” Most of our actions, purchases, and choices aim towards providing us with what we hope will be the greatest level of happiness we can achieve. But like the fairytales remind us, the “Happily Ever After” only happens after the prince and princess are united in marriage. Or in Christian terms, when Jesus returns and is united with his bride, the church. And as we conclude our message series titled “Happily Ever After,” we get reminded that every great relationship (especially between Jesus and us) requires more than just right answers. Love must lead the way. If we want to live for eternity “Happily Ever After” with Jesus, we practice and prepare now by letting love lead.
Looking at Revelation 2:1-7, we read a message sent to a church with all the right answers. This church in Ephesus knew what to believe. They didn’t let false teachers mislead them. And they stood strong in the face of pretty significant persecution because of their confidence in knowing the right answers concerning Jesus. Yet…The ascended Jesus is about to cut ties with them (maybe we’d say Jesus was calling off the marriage engagement) because the church forgot how to love. Imagine a bride perfectly dressed standing at the altar, intimately knowledgable about her future husband, yet failing to display a hint of love towards the groom. Any groom in his right mind would strongly consider walking away. Jesus reminds this church, and us, that knowing the right answers is important…but only when love leads.
More than simply an emotional response, love is an attitude put into action. Love is what we do and how we do it. The feelings may follow. But whether they do or not, we can chose to act in love. What does it look like when love leads? Love L.E.A.D.S. when we….
L everage our power an influence for the sake of another. We lean in.
E ncourage others by emphasizing another’s God-given worth and intrinsic value. We lift up
A ccept others by offering our best even when someone else is at their worst. We live with.
D iscern by recognizing God’s best by uncompromisingly guiding others. We look out.
S ubmit ourselves by surrendering my rights for the sake of another. We lay down.
Each of these words describe exactly how Jesu loved us. Jesus leveraged his power and influence for our sake, giving us his righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus encouraged and lifted up the downtrodden, loving them at their lowest (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus accepted us at our very worse, dying for our sins even as we nailed him to the cross (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus discerned God’s best and challenged people he loved to go and sin no more. (John 8:1-11) But above all, Jesus submitted himself for our sake by exchanging his thrown for a cross (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus lead with love in every way possible, not simply feeling love but choosing to act based on an attitude of love.
Having the right answers still matters. We aren’t practicing love when we allow others to live in the darkness of falsehoods apart from God’s grace and truth. But all the right answers mean little unless love LEADS.
So…I was right but oh so wrong. Fortunately, God’s grace moved me to repentance in my appliance saga. I apologized to the delivery people and I helped them move in what they did have on the truck. I thanked them for all their hard work, offering them every encouragement I could. A took their recommendations in stride and humbly called the appropriate people who could rectify my situation. The good news for me was that I made some new friends and got the stove a day later. My inconvenience (when love LEADS) opened doors to some great conversations, new relationships, and a strong reminder of what it really means to be a Jesus-follower. And yeah, in my apology, I told them I’m a pastor.
May we come to learn the truths of Jesus Christ and hold steadfastly to them no matter the opposition. And in doing so, may we never forget to let love lead our way. Because, even when I’m right I can still be wrong.