The Sin of Self-Defense

It happens when someone says something that we perceive to be intended as an insult or complaint. It happens when someone accuses us of not getting something done, or of not doing it right. It happens when someone else sins and begins to attack us verbally. It is the sin of self-defense. We feel compelled to justify our actions, set the record straight, or provide an excuse. We feel so compelled because our reputation and our image are at stake, not to mention that pesky fear of not being liked. So we jump to conclusions about the perceived attack (real or imagined) and go to battle with all the reasons why we’re right – all to protect a little thing called pride.

Why can it be so hard, when someone says “Oh, this isn’t right.. why didn’t you do it this way?” for us to just respond: “Oh! I did it wrong! I’m sorry I messed up.”? Isn’t that because we don’t like to make mistakes? After all, it’s very bad for the image. Why is it that when we make a social mistake, we will think about it for several hours, dwelling on it more than the other person probably is? Is it because we so desperately desire to be accepted and well-liked? As I said, it all boils down to pride. It’s easy to too highly value the opinion of man and too highly value our self-image. The real crux of the problem is valuing others opinions and our image more than God’s image and opinions.

I’m not going to pretend I’m not guilty of this. I like being liked. 🙂 But I didn’t really see the heart of the problem until earlier this week when I was talking with a wise and godly woman. I had never looked at things quite this way before, but I see that yes, she is quite right. Pride, pride, pride. That and the fear of man. She recommended that I read a book called When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man. (Of course, I haven’t read it yet myself, so I can’t recommend it yet. However, it has good reviews. 🙂 )

That being said, there’s a simple solution:

Focus on God.

Fix your eyes and your heart on Him, His goodness, His wisdom and His love for you. Yes, maintain good earthly relationships and follow God’s commandments about love, truth and forgiveness, but find your ultimate joy, satisfaction and identity in Christ alone.

Romans 8: 12So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Exodus 15: 11 “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

There are more,… so many more!


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mrs darling
mrs darling
August 20, 2007 8:03 pm

Great thoughts. Indeed we all need to check our hearts and motives.

My Quotidian Mysteries
My Quotidian Mysteries
August 19, 2007 1:29 am

Oh man, you need to see my post for today (Sunday) to know how much I am identifying with this post right now. 🙁

Amy Jane
Amy Jane
September 2, 2007 10:53 am

I know a older woman whose MO when she worked an office job was to own responsibility (and apologize!) for stuff that went wrong at work.

This shocked me, b/c she usually seems so practical/saavy, and I would have thought doing that unwise.

She said it was more important to keep the peace and pick up the slack than to look good herself.

And this is a strong-willed woman! No push-over or enabler.

Made me think again about stuff like this.

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