When my daughter Molly turned five, we celebrated with all things Tinker Bell: a Tinker Bell dress, Tinker Bell hair bow, and Tinker Bell shoes. Molly’s favorite gift came from her grandparents: a digital Tinker Bell watch. Every few minutes, Molly popped open her plastic watch lid and proudly announced the time like a medieval town crier. “3:11!” “Now it’s 3:14.” “Mom, do you need to know what time it is? Because I can just look at my Tinker Bell watch. See? It’s 3:18!”

Telling time, however, caused a family feud. When you’re five, distinguishing between digital 2s and 5s can be tricky. And when you’re eight like Molly’s older brother, knowing that difference gives great superiority. The scene played out like this:

Molly: “It’s 8:23!”

Nathan: “It’s…what? 8:23?! Wait.” He ran to the kitchen to check the oven clock.

Me: “Nathan, it’s all right.”

Nathan, beginning to panic and hop in place: “No, WAIT! It’s not 8:23!”

Molly: “Yes, it is. My watch says 8:23. Oh! Now it’s 8:24!”

Nathan, fully jumping up and down: “No! NO! It’s not a 2! IT’S NOT A 2!”

He grabbed his sister’s wrist—and hand, and arm, and shoulder socket—and tried to bring me the attached watch to prove her error. “She’s wrong! She’s wrong! MOM!”

There was yelling, there was crying, and Tinker Bell was tugged this way and that. After the arm wrestling, Nathan and I “discussed” that he was correct—it was, in fact, 8:53. (And then, 8:54.) I explained that his sister was new to 2s and 5s, and that, while a half-hour time difference is important, it’s not worth bodily harm. He had been right, but he’d hurt someone with his rightness. I ended with a sentence we said often in our home: “Being kind is better than being right.” 

It pains me to say so. I do love being right. Too often, I’m right, but I’m not kind. I hurt people with my rightness. Kindness is better. Jesus came to right every wrong, and he did so with kindness—with mercy.

In the Gospels, when the newly-called disciple Matthew hosted a dinner for Jesus, “many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him,” and the right people scoffed. Jumping up and down in their rightness, the religious leaders asked why Jesus would associate with the likes of Matthew. Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” In other words, “Of course I know the people at this party aren’t right. That’s precisely why I’m sharing their supper! I have come to make them right.”

Jesus went on to quote the prophet Hosea: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13). Mercy! Not just strict adherence to rules. Mercy isn’t ignoring sin and calling it kindness—Jesus calls sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). Mercy remembers that we all—Pharisees and teachers of the law, tax collectors and sinners, the healthy and the sick—need a Savior to make us right.

And so, since we were sick and in need of a doctor, “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6, 8). When we were powerless, he was kind. When we needed a sacrifice to pay for our sins, he had mercy. 

“Go and learn what this means,” warned Jesus. Being kind is better than being right.

Amy Storms

Amy is a part of our Christ’s Church family and has taught Women’s bible studies and served as a Pathways guide. She is the Marketing & Communications Director as well as an English Professor and Strong Hall Residence Director at Ozark Christian College, one of our Impact Partners.

Amy is pictured here with her husband, Andy, and children, Nathan, Anne, and Molly.

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