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The One Thing More Important Than Being Right

Over the years that I have been a rabbi, I have encountered thousands of people who are completely convinced that their interpretation of the Holy Scriptures is the one and only correct interpretation, and when you meet them you will walk away from them knowing exactly what they believe.

These are things such as what is the correct way to dress, or when Yeshua (Jesus) will return; if you baptize by sprinkling or immersion, or what words are spoken when you baptize; to drink wine or juice during communion, or even if communion should even be done; speaking in tongues or no tongues; instruments in service or acapella worship; kosher or non-kosher; meat or vegetarian; Saturday or Sunday Shabbat. 

It is amazing how often it is that within moments of meeting a Bible believer, one or more of these controversial issues comes up as a litmus test for faith and faithfulness.

If the person is from a Christian background, when they are promoting their interpretation, they will often back up what they are saying by pointing to “The Church Fathers.” If they come from a Jewish background, they will often point to “The Rabbis.” 

Too often, the person defending and advocating for their interpretation of the text will place so much importance upon those men who came before us that they become so enamored with “The Church Fathers” or “The Rabbis;” they forget the purpose of Scripture is not to tell us the right things to do, but rather introduce us to the One who knows the right things to do.

In the book of John chapter 4, Yeshua meets with a Samaritan woman at a well. It is funny that when we talk about their conversation, most of the time we point out that she was a Samaritan and/or that she had five husbands, but was now living with a man out of wedlock.

Our focus goes to denominational and doctrinal differences, or pointing out the sins of others. This is nothing new, in fact, when the Samaritan woman met Yeshua at the well, she had the same reaction. Just read for yourself what she said right after Yeshua told her about her marital status in John 4:19-20:

John 4:19 “Sir,” the woman tells Him, “I see that You are a prophet! 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you all say that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Notice that this woman recognized that Yeshua was a prophet, yet her immediate response to that revelation was to ask a doctrinal question. Who is right: “Our Fathers,” or “Your Fathers?” Yeshua’s one statement demonstrates how we should respond to questions like this, as we read in John 4:21-22:

John 4:21 Yeshua tells her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Notice that Yeshua didn't begin His reply by saying her question was wrong, and in verse 22, He answered her question about who was right and who was wrong, when He said “we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” However, His focus was not on who was right and who was wrong; His focus was on Who was right. 

Yeshua redirected her focus from who was doing something right to who knows the One who is right. This is a lesson that we still have to learn today, while it is true that Yeshua never once abolished or changed the Torah, and it is also true that He 100% taught us to obey the commandments. 

Too often, in our quest to teach the commandments, we abolish Yeshua. Just think about it within this single encounter between the Samaritan woman and Yeshua. Yeshua directly revealed that He was both a prophet and The Messiah, yet her only response while being in the physical presence of G-D on earth was to ask whose doctrine was correct. 

She was so invested in being right that even when she was actually with the One, she was more interested in being right, than being with the One who was right. 

Please understand, as I stated above, Yeshua never once diminished the importance of obedience to G-D’s Word, however, we can get so caught up in works of righteousness that we forget the whole purpose of the Torah was to lead us to Yeshua. 

Unfortunately, for too many people, we get so involved in our interpretation and format of how to keep the commandments that even when we are led into the very presence of Yeshua, instead of rejoicing in His presence, we ask Him if we are keeping His commandments correctly. We have forgotten that the one thing more important than being right is being with the One Who Is Right.

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I so agree with what you've opened up here, dear brother. The drive to "be right" is so dominant in human beings--but especially in spiritual leaders. We have a lot to repent of. In our presentation of truth (which is, of course, our calling--to provide spiritual food) we risk climbing on a soap box as if we have a corner on the market. Please forgive us, Lord! Thanks, Eric, for this valuable, essential, gotta be remembered truth.

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Thank you so much for your encouragement my friend. I pray you and yours regularly and look forward to the next time we are together.

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