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  • Writer's pictureTroy Spradlin

Nobody Wants to Be Wrong!

Most of us have strong core beliefs. Those beliefs are what shape our worldview, which originated from the cultural and family environment in which we were raised, life experiences, deductions we reached about various topics, and matters we've come to accept as "truth." All of this is the basis for how we operate in life and how we might feel about ourselves and others. In much the same way that computers and phones require an operating system to function, your worldview could be considered your "operating system."

Yet, there are times when our worldview - our fundamental understanding of how things are and should be - can be challenged. When it happens, it can trigger a complex cascade of cognitive, emotional, and sometimes behavioral responses. Or to put it in more simple terms, no one wants to be wrong! The aversion to being wrong is rooted in our worldview. Here are few key reasons why people often go to great lengths to avoid being wrong:

  • Ego and Self-Identity: Being right is closely tied to one's sense of ego and self-esteem. To admit being wrong can feel like an attack on one's identity and self-worth, because they equate being wrong with failure or inadequacy, rather than seeing it as a natural part of learning and growing. Yet, the Bible says, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." (Philippians 2:3)

  • Cognitive Dissonance: This is a psychological response where individuals experience discomfort when they must rationalize between two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. Admitting they are wrong would require them to confront the discomfort and stress, which most people naturally seek to avoid. But the Bible teaches, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2) God ways conflict with worldly ways. His way is true!

  • Social Judgment and Acceptance: Humans are inherently social beings, and their status in social groups can feel threatened if they are perceived as wrong or incompetent. The fear of losing respect, status, or social acceptance can be a powerful motivator to avoid admitting mistakes or errors. This is why many refused to confess or follow Christ (cf. Matt 10:32-33, 23:5-7; John 9:22, 12:42; Acts 17:32).

  • Confirmation Bias: People tend to favor information that confirms their existing beliefs or hypotheses. Such cognitive bias can make it difficult for individuals to accept that they are wrong, so they might unconsciously dismiss or undervalue evidence that contradicts their views. This was the Pharisees' problem, but Jesus said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." (Matt 22:29)

  • Fear of Consequences: Being wrong can sometimes have real-world consequences, ranging from minor embarrassments to significant impacts on one’s career, relationships, or financial status. The potential negative outcomes of being wrong can create a strong incentive to avoid it. Yet, Jesus said, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matt 10:37). Consider also what John says in 1 John 2:15-16.

No one enjoys being wrong! But do you realize that obeying the Gospel naturally implies admitting that you were wrong? It is what repentance entails! It is accepting that you had been wrong about how you viewed your life and if you want to be right with God, you must submit to His commands. The Bible is full of people who had their core beliefs rocked to the foundation. Consider the challenges to the worldviews of those mentioned in Acts 2:37, 3:19, 8:22, and 26:20. God certainly challenges our natural human worldview. Not everyone can accept that. But the real question is the same one posed to those in the Bible, "How will YOU respond to God's will?"

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