The world thrives on a sense of personal rights. We expect things from others, and get upset when our expectations are not met by them. When we are hurt by another, we retaliate in silence, bitterness, anger, or legal action because we sense the right to be recompensed for the hurt we suffered.

Yet, throughout the Scriptures, one would be hard-pressed to find such an insistence on personal rights. In fact, one finds abundant evidence that encourages suffering wrong rather than avenging wrong (Rom 12:16-21; 1 Pet 3:15-17; Pro 16:18; etc.).

Unlike the world’s laws vainly attempting to protect the rights of one another, the law of the LORD is stated in terms of responsibilities to one another. For example, the right to life might sound all good and noble, but it doesn’t produce a sense of obligation to preserve the life of another as the commandment “Thou shalt not murder” does. A sense of personal right produces personal vindictiveness; a sense of personal responsibility produces personal holiness. Similarly, protecting one’s rights tempts all that the end justifies the means—for example slandering another is OK as long as my right to a good reputation is preserved. However, sensing one’s responsibilities requires not only a noble end goal, but also requires righteous means to reach that goal—for example, preserving one’s reputation is going to require truth, godliness, and patience.

That is why Jesus taught that we demonstrate our love for Him by keeping His commandments (John 14:15, 21; 15:10), and not, like the world says, by loving ourselves (Matt 22:39 is often used to teach this, but it too mentions only two commandments—love God, love others—since you already are so lovingly aware of what you think your rights are).

It is always worse to do wrong than to suffer wrong. It is always better to do right than to insist on rights. Always remember that Proverbs links general well-being to your responsibilities, not your rights.

Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and
turn away from evil.

It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:7-8