Luke 10:29 (NASB)
29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus…
Those words arrest me every time I read them. I wonder how much of what I do, say, and think is at least partially motivated by a desire to justify myself.
Sometimes I want to justify my existence. Instead of anchoring my value to my relationship with God, I attempt to define my worth by comparing myself with others. In one way or another I try to convince myself and everyone else that I measure up—that I am productive, intelligent, useful, acceptable, worthwhile.
Sometimes I want to justify my actions. My conscience tells me something’s a bit off, but I don’t want to admit it, or I don’t want to repent of it. Instead, I rehearse to myself all the reasons why my choices really are valid, understandable, or unavoidable.
Sometimes I justify in order to defend. The attack may be real or imagined, but I craft my conversations to prove that I am not this way, don’t do this thing, don’t think these thoughts, don’t fit into that category, don’t fall into this error. Or sometimes to prove that I am this way, do this thing…
I’m not saying there’s never an appropriate time to defend against a false accusation, but that’s pretty rare. I don’t have many enemies.
Just like with the lawyer in Luke 10, Jesus sees right through it all…and probably so do a lot of people. It’s a waste of energy—energy that could be better spent noticing somebody else.