The Evil of Rightness

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Daily Reformation, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

From the Reformer

Ah! how bitter an enemy is the devil to our church and school here at Wittenberg, which in particular he opposes more than the rest, so that tyranny and heresy increase and get the upper hand by force, in that all the members of the church are against one another; yea, also we, which are a piece of the heart, vex and plague one another among ourselves. I am verily persuaded that many wicked wretches and spies are here, who watch over us with an evil eye, and are glad when discord and offences arise among us; therefore we ought diligently to watch and pray; it is high time—pray, pray. This school is a foundation and ground of pure religion, therefore she ought justly to be preserved and maintained with lectures and with stipends against the raging and swelling of Satan.

—Martin Luther, Table Talk

Pulling It Together

“We don’t want that pastor anymore. And if you keep him, we’re leaving.” That is a common enough argument in the church. There are also arguments over sacrament, decoration, music, higher education, administration, and buildings. What about carpet, pew cushion, and door color? Attached or detached fellowship halls? Children’s church or children staying for the service? Traditional worship or contemporary? They are all worthwhile considerations but they can divide the church when people become too passionate about those things for which they do not pray just as passionately. Rightness too often trumps righteousness. It is so important for some believers to be right about an issue that they cause division in the church. Not just that! Their arguing turns others away from the Church and even the Gospel. Many of the things argued over in churches have nothing to do with Scripture, morality, or conscience. This is an evil strategy: overthrow a church by using those who might have been agents of righteousness by tricking them into being mere agents of rightness—the devil’s pawns.

There are matters that are not matters of indifference for which we should take a stand on the Scripture. However, in far too many matters, we should walk away from having our way and pray that God has his way. Call the arguing church to prayer. Through much and prolonged prayer, God overcomes the evil of rightness in a congregation. Nevertheless, too many would rather argue their right position than pray. Which is the purer religion: being right or being in prayer?

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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