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Does Position Really Trump Disposition?

Sometimes cliche statements reflect bad Theology.

Growing up, many times I heard (and disagreed) with this statement: “I’d rather have the right position and wrong disposition, than the wrong position and a right disposition.”

To me, that has always sounded like a veiled way of saying, “Believing the right things gives me permission to act like a jerk.”

I’ve also been taught and agree with this statement: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Funny thing is, these two statements are in direct conflict.

It seems, as Christians, we rationalize that we can act with carnal attitudes, but that doesn’t matter so long as we have the “RIGHT POSITION.”

Is it really ok to have the right position and the wrong disposition? I don’t think so. In fact, I think this dismisses the most basic understanding of “position” and “the Christian faith!” It’s really bad Theology.

Doctrine creates deportment. Position creates disposition. Belief creates behavior. Biblical truth ought to bring practical transformation.

The right biblical position—the right commitment to pure Bible truth and doctrine—should absolutely create the most Christ-like, grace-filled, sacrificially loving disposition. The most attractive and godly people in the world should be those who are absolutely committed to pure Bible teaching and sound doctrine.

Sadly this is often not the case. Sometimes those who claim to be “the most right” doctrinally are also “the most caustic” relationally. Strange landing place isn’t it?

If my disposition is hurtful, offensive, insulting, self-centered, or otherwise caustic or carnal, then there’s a major flaw in my position. If my position somehow produces or tolerates a bad attitude or a critical, contentious, angry spirit, there is a serious problem with my position.

The idea that somehow I can separate “what I believe” from “how I behave” is a shallow perspective on truth.

Your position should create your disposition. If your disposition is in conflict with the Spirit-filled life and the fruit of the Spirit flowing from you, then something about your position needs to change immediately! Consider this…

It’s EASY to have a position. It’s much more DIFFICULT to have a Spirit-filled disposition.

It’s easy to declare dogma. It’s easy to stake my claim on doctrinal ground. It’s cheap. No life-back-up needed. No sacrifice required. No love expected. No surrender necessary. No living out of real faith needed. No fruit of the Spirit called for. The only thing necessary to have a “position” is a hard head and steadfast commitment.

(Note—Don’t get me wrong. I believe in steadfastly having the right doctrinal position.) 

In other words, it’s easy to reduce Christian living to a few small descriptors that salve my conscience and dismiss real heart-based, dispositional transformation that only comes the work of the Holy Spirit in a humbled heart. Eg: “Because I believe ‘xyz’—this makes me a ‘good Christian. And since I’m a good Christian because of my position—then my disposition gets a free pass.”

It’s MUCH EASIER to have a position than to exhibit a Christ-like disposition.

Sadly, while high-minded Theologians like to separate the two—the Bible does not. Position and disposition are undeniably and irrevocably  joined in God’s economy.

Right Theology should be practically transformative. Right belief should be validated and substantiated by the right behavior that it produces.

And one final, very important thought—

We’re NEVER going to reach others with the gospel with only a POSITION. Nope. Unfortunately, the world encounters our disposition long before it encounters our position.

America is riddled with Christians who have the “right position” but no fruit—no rescued hearts who have encountered their gospel and been discipled as 2 Timothy 2:2 directs. Many Christians are content to “be right” in their position while their disposition allows the rest of the world to die and go to hell.

That’s a strange, unbiblical Theology.

Your disposition is the front door through which people may eventually arrive at your position.

If you want to reach people for Christ, it’s going to be because your Spirit-filled, loving disposition is leading them toward the right doctrinal position. Your disposition is so loving, so pure, so selfless, so Christlike that your belief becomes authentic, attractive, and undeniably true!

Surely, that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) 

The key to seeing people come to Christ in this day is not the ability to argue like an arrogant FOXNews analyst. You may be able to argue your right position. But if your disposition is repulsive, the name of Christ is tarnished, God is misrepresented, and the gospel falls on rejecting hearts. Your repulsive demeanor makes Jesus and all His truth repulsive as well. Sad thought.

How many hot-headed Christians have dragged the gospel through the mud of their flesh with a carnal disposition?

Be careful about salving your conscience with easy descriptors of Christianity. Be careful about reducing the Christian life to only a “position.” It is that—but it’s also much more than that.

Stay connected to the high calling—the much more biblical focus of actually living, by the filling and power of the Holy Spirit, what we claim to believe!

Only then will the world see GRACE. Only then is God truly magnified before lost hearts and His love clearly seen!

Does position trump disposition? No. Does disposition trump position? No. The two are one.

I vote that we reconnect position and disposition! They go together—inseparably. They belong together. God’s Word presents them that way. And He calls us to live them that way.

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5 Comments

  • I love the statement that “Your position should create your disposition. If your disposition is in conflict with the Spirit-filled life and the fruit of the Spirit flowing from you, then something about your position needs to change immediately!” These are great thoughts and much-needed words.

  • Wonderful. I think however the problem runs deeper. What I have observed first hand is that these type of men are actually PROUD of their disposition and seem to think that they are like an Old Testament prophet thundering God’s judgment on this nation. It’s time to raise up a new generation of pastors that have a true understanding of what defending the faith is.
    God bless you brother, keep it up!

  • That is what the Scripture means when it says speak the Turth (position) in Love (disposition). I enjoy your posts.

  • Interesting parallel thought the Lord showed me recently from James 3:13-18. The passage deals with how to tell where the wisdom you are receiving is coming from, either “from above” or “earthly, sensual, and devilish”. The interesting thing to me is that nothing is said about WHAT is actually given, EVERYTHING deals with HOW it is given. And this makes perfect sense. I used to hear all the time, “We’ll even if they are not in the right spirit, just line it up to the Bible and follow anyways!”
    But obviously if you’re seeking wisdom, it is in an area you do not have clear direction on! You cannot compare the wisdom you are given to anything, but you CAN compare HOW it is given. And right wisdom will be given “first pure (right motive), then peaceable (not trying to cause division), gentle (not harsh in delivery), [and] easy to be intreated (easy to approach and talk to), full of mercy and good fruits (merciful and Spirit-filled), without partiality (unbiased), and without hypocrisy (not with a “know-it-all” and “I’m perfect” attitude).
    Sensual wisdom creates confusion (v16); wisdom from above creates peace (v18)!!!
    DISPOSITION AND POSITION DEFINITELY GO TOGETHER!
    THANK YOU!!!!

  • Excellent post. Having watched football today I am reminded that even a caught pass can be cancelled out by a “flag” on the play. Sometimes our “disposition” ruins any gains that might be made by our “position.”


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