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Volume 8, Issue 4: Similitudes

Looking Out Your Eyeballs

Douglas Wilson

Why do you think you're always right?"

Well, actually I don't.
"That's not the way a lot of folks see it."
I'm very sorry to hear that.
"C'mon. Why do you think you're always right?"
I really have no desire to argue with you. . . .
"But I, and a lot of other people, would like an answer to the question."
All right, then. But remember that you asked.
"Fair enough. I asked."
I always think I'm right, but I don't think I'm always right.
"That sounds like the same thing to me."
But the two are entirely different.
"Say it again."
I always think I'm right, but I don't think I'm always right.
"Okay. Explain yourself."
If I didn't think I was right about something, I wouldn't say it. Whatever I say I believe to be right at the time, but I know that I have often been mistaken in this belief. So I don't think I'm always right.
"Wait a minute. . . ."
Put this another way. Do you think that I think I am always right?
"Well, yes. That's why I asked the question."
All right. Do you think that this opinion of yours is right?
If you didn't think it was right, you wouldn't have said it. Is that fair?
Now it strikes me that everyone, excluding jokers and liars from our consideration, fits into this category all day long. No one says things because they believe them to be false. So I do always think I am right. But so does everyone else. Everyone looks out their own eyeballs.
"I suppose. Still you have the reputation."
Do you want me to fix the reputation by starting to maintain things I believe to be false?
"But you still have a reputation."
What reputation exactly?
"What do you think? A reputation that you think you are always right. Why do you believe you have the reputation?"
Since you have heard the good folks talking about it, perhaps you would be in a better position to say.
"It must be the way you think you are right--your attitude. Sure, everyone believes in what they are saying at the time, but you come across with a real intellectual arrogance."
I am very sorry to hear that.
"But feeling sorry won't fix anything. What are you going to do about it?"
Why should I do anything about it?
"What do you mean? Of course you should do something about it!"
I don't see why.
"A lot of people are upset with you. Don't you have a duty to seek reconciliation with offended brothers?"
I would be happy to. What are their names? And what did I do wrong?
"Well, I'm not at liberty to give you their names. . . ."
Then I'm not at liberty to fix anything.
"Why not? Couldn't you just bend your general attitude a little? Show them that you are not arrogant?"
I told you before that I have been wrong very many times. When I know where that has happened, I am more than willing to apologize and make it right. But it would be grossly unbiblical to make up a series of blank check apologies to be cashed by the Anonymously Grieved.
"See? That's what does it!"
And what is that?
"When you talk that way it creates the perception that you . . . you are just too confident. And that comes across as arrogance. You are responsible to change that perception, aren't you?"
It strikes me that those who have the perception are responsible to find out if their perception is accurate. If it is, then they should talk to me about it. If not, then they should change the perception.
"How are they supposed to do that?"
The way the Bible says. If they won't open their Bibles, I have little faith in their ability to open up the motives of my heart--especially from a distance. And if they do read their Bibles, they won't try to open up the motives of anyone's heart but their own, and they will be pretty darn careful about that.
"You know, I can't figure you out."
You may have guessed that I have had this kind of conversation more than once.
"Yes, and that's why I don't see why you still can't get it."
Let me put it this way. If my anonymous friends knew only a small fraction of what God knows about me, they'd be downright apoplectic. But the fact that I am a great sinner, which is beyond dispute, does not make me guilty of every sin that may come into their heads.
"But why can't you respect their perceptions?"
One of my daughters yesterday, due to poor eyesight, had the perception that you were shoplifting out at WalMart. Do you want me to respect the perception? Or correct it?
"What? Are you serious?"
Depends. Want me to correct it?
"Okay. For the sake of the argument."
Okay. You're a friend, and I'll set the record straight. But I have to tell you frankly, I'm distressed by the arrogance that makes you want to defend yourself like this.

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