Friday, December 7, 2012

The Sin of Defending Yourself

 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”[e]

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,”[f] but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. - 1 Peter 2:19-25

It the cause, the source, the root of so many arguments and discussions.  Person X says something about person Y, and person Y begins to defend themselves.  Maybe it's explaining how X is wrong.  Maybe it's turning around an pointing out flaws in X to undercut their credibility.  Maybe it's telling everyone why Y themselves is really right and good.  Maybe it's blaming Z.  Either way, some defense is made... and then the argument is on.

Sometimes trying to publicly defend yourself is just wrong.

Simple as that.

Consider this.  What are you actually doing when you defend yourself?

1 - I'm just explaining my actions.  Why?  Why do you need to explain your actions?  To justify yourself?  To protect your reputation?  To prove that you are actually right and the other guy wrong?  Why is that a priority... or to put it this way... are you with your words serving yourself or are you serving your neighbor?  The later is good, the former is... bad.

2.  The other guy is a jerk.  Well, that's nice.  And yes, sometimes for the good of your neighbors it is good to put a bully down.  But here's the thing -- if they are hammering you... are you really acting altruistically?  Are you really acting to protect and defend others, or do you take down the jerk because man it feels good to take down the jerk?  Again, one of those is bad, and one is good.

3.  But it's not my fault.  Okay.  So some other fellow dropped the ball and things have splashed onto you.  How do you serve your neighbor?  I mean, let's consider - what sin had Christ committed that got Him reviled and crucified?  Oh, yeah, it was some other fellow's -- namely mine.  Again, we are called to love our neighbor, even when they cause us undo hardship.  

So fine, fine, fine - what then are we supposed to do?

A - Confess - Often the simple fact is that you did drop the ball.  Confess.  Own up to it.  Self-justification's mortal enemy is confession, is the finding of the flaw in what you have done... even if they see a log when it's probably only a speck. 

B - Concede - Let the other guy win.  Concede the point about you being a _____________, for the sake of something more important, like your neighbor.  Often attacks are... spurious.  Often attacks are designed to deflect the conversation from where it is going (and should be going) onto something else.  Concede the attack, and get back on topic.

C - Cover - Cover your neighbor's flaws - don't reveal them.  If you are getting blamed for what someone else has done - protect their reputation.  Then, patiently instruct and guide them (and you'll have the moral authority to do so) so that they can grow.  The care and compassion that no one but the two of you ever need know.

This is not easy.  Our sinful flesh hates this.  Why?  Because we don't always come out smelling like roses -- we would much rather prove to everyone that what we did is right and good and above reproach (of course, if you have to *prove* that you are above reproach, you by definition are not above it because you have in fact already been reproved... but that's neither here nor there).

I'm sure, if someone was so inclined, they could easily point out, "You hypocrite - you write this, but I've seen the comments you've written - you are a self-justifying ________ jerky poopy-faced bad theologian (or the epithet of their choice).

Yep.  I'm sure it wouldn't take me long to go through the comment I have written to find things that don't hold up to this standard.  Or even posts.  I never said the above was easy or that I had obtained it -- but this is the goal.  Everything should serve the neighbor, should defend the neighbor.

Defend the neighbor - protect them.  Yourself, don't worry about that so much.  You aren't your own protector -- A Mighty Fortress is your God -- let Him defend you.  And He will - maybe not as quickly as you would want.  But our God works through means - when needed, He will raise up one to defend you -- He already has sent His Son to defend and rescue you for all eternity.  Bear Christ in mind, pray for endurance, and show forth love.

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