Summary: It is easier to be smug than satisfied, to be correct than compassionate, to be religious than real. What we need to do is to cry, "Lord forgive my sin."
The surest formula for unhappiness is have to be right, all of the time. If you are expected to be one hundred percent correct, never making a mistake, no blunders allowed, then you are asking for a serious heart attack, for high blood pressure, and for plain old unhappiness. It’s an awesome burden to have to be correct, all of the time.
And yet a lot of us are right there. A good many of us put ourselves in that position. And it’s disaster.
I remember the first time I donated blood to the blood bank. I particularly wanted to know what my own blood type was. It was just a few months before Margaret and I were to be married, and we had been reading up on things like Rh factors and what could go wrong with babies if the father’s plus or minus sign didn’t line up right with the mother’s.
And so after I had given blood, they went off to do something, and I sat up on the cot and leaned over to read the report sheet. Right there, very clearly, it was written out, "0 Negative." There wasn’t any missing that, because the word “Negative” was written out.
I lay back down to clear my fuzzy head, only to be brought up short by the Red Cross worker, who had come back with my donor card. When she gave it to me, down in the corner where it said "Blood type", she had written, "0", and then a plus sign. Not a word, just the plus sign. I looked, and I looked over at the sheet again, and said, "There seems to be a mistake here." Well, that was the wrong word to use: mistake. "Let me see that; we don’t make mistakes." She snatched the card out of my hand, she squinted at it, she looked over at the report sheet, and taking pen in hand, she scratched something out on my card and barked at me, "Just like it says, O Negative". I sputtered a little, and asked, "Well, now, which is it? Because the report says one thing and your card said another." I got the most blistering lecture you can imagine on how medical people do not make mistakes, they are trained to be precise, and that’s all for you today, Mr. O Negative!"
Wow! Isn’t it an awesome burden to have to be right all of the time? To have to be so correct that you cannot admit, ever, to a mistake? And the surest formula for unhappiness is to be stuck in correctness.
Oh! You want to know whether I am negative or positive? Well, if you ever have to haul me out of here on a stretcher, when the paramedics come, could you just give me a toe tag that says "O question mark"?
It’s very unhappy, it’s very unsatisfying, to be stuck in correctness, where you feel you have to be right, no room to admit mistakes. It’s very unhappy; it’s very unsatisfying; and it is sin. It is sin.
I’m going to ask you to learn three truths about being stuck in correctness. I’m going to ask you to learn them and say them with me to help drive these ideas home.
Here they are: It’s easier to be smug than to be satisfied; it’s easier to be correct than to be compassionate; and it’s easier to be religious than to be real.
Would you try these with me? First, it’s easier to be smug than to be satisfied (repeat); it’s easier to be correct than to be compassionate (repeat); and it’s easier to be religious than to be real.
And all of these are symptoms of being stuck in correctness. The sin of correctness, for which we need to be forgiven.
In Jesus’ day there was a group among the Jewish people called the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the good people, the solid people, of Jesus’ day. They were the pillars of society, the movers and shakers, the professionals, the technocrats, the ones who got things done. They were the politically correct, they were the hill staffers, they were the bureaucrats and the businessmen. Make no mistake about it; the Pharisees were good people. So good you could hardly stand them! These folks gave Jesus more trouble than any other single group. Jesus spoke with more disappointment about the Pharisees more than anyone else. Jesus had a lot of trouble with these folks, because, in their zeal and in their insistence on being right, they were stuck in correctness, and they sinned seriously.
And we know what it’s about to be stuck in correctness, don’t we? Remember? It’s easier to be smug than to be satisfied; it’s easier to be correct than to be compassionate; and it’s easier to be religious than to be real. But it’s all sin.