Our battle to justify our own actions can greatly destroy the peace in all our relationships.
How wonderfully different is our justification in Christ! Through Jesus we are proclaimed as righteous in God’s sight. Our justification is fully based on Jesus’ death on the cross, all out of His pure and perfect love for us. And peace with our Holy God is the eternal result!
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 5:1
Self-justification is really just selfish. Any time, energy, excuse, explanation or defensive posturing that we give in order to justify any of our own bad behavior is selfish and self-focused. When we justify and defend our hurtful words and wrong actions (even if we think they’re hidden) by pointing to what we may have suffered in the past or by focusing on how hurt or angry someone else has made us feel, we’re really held prisoner to our pride.
Self-justification is a deflective, defensive, sin-denying, self-protective behavior that doesn’t have anything to do with the peace, freedom, forgiveness and righteousness that Jesus Christ gives to us through His sacrificial death on our behalf. Self-justification just doesn’t work!
People do hurt us. People do things that make us angry. Still, we always have the choice to do things God’s ways. Always. We do not have to be bitter – just because the situation is (or the other person is!). We do not have to prove that we are right – just because the other person is (or we think is) wrong. Any behavior in thought, word, action or reaction that comes from a desire to put someone else down or to punish them in some way or to seek retribution for their bad behavior towards us – is just plain wrong. And self-justification will never make it right.
We who are followers of Jesus have been given the Spirit of the Living God to guide us, direct us and teach us how to be more like Jesus. And I am absolutely convinced that Jesus – the One who never sinned, yet, became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21) – doesn’t have anything to do with self-justification! Not one little bit! Not one little word! Not one nasty look! Not one unkind action! No! We who are in Christ have been given the great gift of being justified before our Holy God for every one of our own ugly sins (including self-justification!) so that we may receive the very peace of God – and peace with God – for ourselves.
Let us, by God’s loving power, truly forgive others. Let us, in honesty and humility, admit that we have done wrong and sincerely ask to be forgiven – without hanging onto even one single shred of self-justification. When we accept the gift of life-sacrificing justification given through Jesus, we recognize that any attempt on our part to continue to self-justify our own wrong behavior (no matter how provoked we may feel) is a complete denial and rejection of all that Jesus has done for us!
Self-justification just doesn’t work. It’s a waste of time and it’s destructive. May we each choose, instead, to more fully receive and more freely give to others the love, forgiveness, grace and peace of our Holy God that comes only through our Lord Jesus Christ!