Seeking to Justify

I am offended.

The note was polite, but to the point. The writer needed to express something that had been in her mind for awhile. To be fair, the words werent I am offended, but it seems offensive to me. There is little difference.

Something I have donelanguage I have used in my business for yearswas offensive. I selected the language. I placed it in a prominent place in my advertising.

I offended.

I dont know the person. Someone else in the church she attends has made numerous purchases from my company over the last few years. The writer of the note is not even my customer.

And yet, I read the words on my screen and my spirits sank. What would I say? How would I respond?

Do you know how easy it is to believe one has been attacked?

Is it not a simple thing to take offense at the one who has taken offense?

My mind, as it does, piled up the words with which to defend myself. I know how to use the English language. I am accomplished in the skill of bickering.

I want the chance to justify myself.

Why is that my first reaction? Is it true for everyone? When we sense that we have been admonished, do we all want to deflect the blame?

I wanted to look better than I did in that moment.

I knew I could come out on top. I knew it.

Sleep hardly came that night. I would present my argument to the imaginary jury I had collected in my head, letting loose with the big guns and obliterating the enemy. I win!

But, a quiet voice from deeper inside asked a one-word question. Just one.


With a mental shrug, Id decide to think about it tomorrow, only to find myself, moments later, facing the imaginary jury once more.

Time after time I built up my defense against the enemy, only to face that one-word question again. And, again.


But he, seeking to justify himself, replied, Who is my neighbor? (Luke 10:29)

Neighbor. Thats the word I wanted. Not enemy.


And the second is like the first: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Mark 12:30-31) Jesus said it was the second most important commandment, essentially part of the first. The lawyer who wanted to justify himself (in Lukes passage) knew it by heart.

I do, too. Yet, every time I am confronted with my own shortcomings, my reaction is the lawyers. Every time.

I want to justify myself. I want to make myself look better. And, more often than not, that is accomplished by making someone else look smaller.

Seeking to justify ourselves, we reply.

We use words like snowflake, over-sensitive, entitled, and coddled.

Or, we use words like arrogant, insensitive, and bully.

Either way, the result is the same. We tear down our neighbors to build up ourselves.

Words were the cause of my offense. My next words would either increase the offense, possibly making me feel justified, or they would begin the healing process.

What to do?

Over forty years ago, a wise man wrote, in his beautiful script, in the front of a new Bible he and his wife were giving to their youngest son. He knew his son well, having spent nearly twenty years in close proximity to him.

The words, still quite legible today, were exactly what the argumentative, impatient youth needed. I can attest that he was more annoyed than overjoyed to read them the first one hundred times or so he saw them written there.

The Preacher said the words, thousands of years before. Their truth has not faded one iota.

A gentle answer turns aside wrath, but argumentative words only stir up more anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

I havent always lived by the exhortation. In truth, I havent lived by it even a majority of the time.

Im learning. Finally.

StillI want to know.

Why do we add offense to offense over and over?

Why is it so difficult for us to bind wounds instead of making them bleed more?

Why is it so hard for us to recognize our neighbors, instead, identifying them as enemies, almost without fail?

In a world filled with hate and vitriol, weall who follow Christare called to bind up, and carry, and treat, with the same love we have for our God and Savior, all who walk the same ground we do.

Its not optional.

Its not.

Im justified. By Him. I dont do that myself at all; its what He does. (Ephesians 2:8)

How I respond to others is how I show them whats really in my heartin my very soul.

Gentle words.


Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.

(from Poor Richards Almanac ~ Benjamin Franklin ~ 1706-1790)

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

(Philippians 2:14,15 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Paul Phillips. Hes Taken Leave. 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 Paul Phillips
I have been a member of ChristianBlog.Com for 1 year, 10 months and 15 days.
I have published 88 blogs and 24 comments.
K Reynolds

This subject came up in a discussion I was involved with today. I won't go in to details except to say that the way we as Christians respond to criticism or correction is very important.

Yes, we are human and yes, we are still prone to fall back into our old ways take offense, pop off our mouths, think the rules apply to everyone except us because we are "in ministry" or we have good intentions and so forth, etc but that does not our behavior. We must own up to it, admit we were wrong, repent and do what we can to try to do as much damage-control as possible.


excellent blog my friend, I was faced with something some what similar, I was teaching at my church on a subject I suppose for some was a bit touchy and this fellow who is a minister stood up and began to what I felt was rebuking me, I was speechless, it was totally unexpected, needless to say I felt like an idiot, we talked a bit back and forth and then the class was over, I went home feeling angry, how dare he challenge me? who does he think he is? does he want a public debate? ok I will give him one. these stupid thoughts rolled over in my mind. for weeks I found myself looking at him at church like he was an enemy, I fought it and fought but it was always the same thing, I hated looking at him that way because I knew he was a brother yet my flesh would take over and back to square one. then one morning I was reading a message by Charles spurgeon called "A blow to pride" and man my eyes were opened, I was full of so much pride, I'm sure if I would have confessed how I was feeling to any other brother or sister they would have said "you are being prideful" but I suppose I was too prideful to confess my fault after the Holy Spirit revealed my sin to me and I repented of it i no longer looked at Him that way but looked at him like a brother in Christ, we will not all agree on certain issues