In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
until someone comes forward and cross-examines.
What a true observation! How many times have we heard one speaker lay forth an argument that seems the epitome of commonsense, only to hear someone else give a different opinion or exam the first speaker, and we completely change our opinion? Perhaps the first speaker omitted pertinent information; perhaps he operated from presuppositions that needed questioning. Whatever the case, it took another examiner – either one impartial or with a differing opinion – to present a fuller picture.
Thus, we need ourselves not to be quick to form opinions nor to assume that the speaker on our side is always right. This happens in politics and theology where we presume that our guy is the one with the right facts and opinion. Take time to listen to the examiner, regardless of his position. The truth can reside even in the one with the wrong motivation or perspective. We are not to judge by what “seems” right, but by the evidence itself. Oftentimes we need someone with another perspective to help us consider what the evidence may be.
A more common scenario is our taking sides in a dispute before listening to each party. Take, for example, a marital conflict. One spouse shares with you how he or she has been wronged. You are sympathetic and now become angry with the other spouse. You either hold a grudge or even confront the other spouse with his or her wrongdoing. What then happens? The conflict escalates. Before you bothered to hear the other side, you made accusations, which only increases the trouble between the couple. Do not be quick to judge. The proverb is right: The one who states his case first seems right. But seeming right and being right are not the same thing. It is fine to be sympathetic, but not to rush to conclusions.
Finally, give thanks that we have a Lord who judges not by what his eyes see or ears hear, but only with righteousness and equity (Isaiah 11:4). And give thanks that we have God’s Word that gives, not an opinion, but truth by which we may judge the opinions of others, including ourselves.
2 Timothy 1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
Appeal for Loyalty to Paul and the Gospel
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Examples of Disloyalty and Loyalty
15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.