When To Defend Yourself

There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. Genesis 31:40-41

Jacob had had enough. He had labored under Laban’s patriarchal umbrella and suffered unfairly. He had been stolen from, lied to, and cheated out of earned wages. He had been tricked into taking a wife he never chose. On this day though, after being hunted down and accused of not acting justly, he rose to tell the truth of the story.

Making a ‘defense’ is one of those touchy subjects. If I defend myself in the heat of the moment, I can easily hear, “Well, aren’t you defensive!”  The other assumes my guilt instead of innocence. Somewhere in this equation, however, is turning the other cheek and suffering silently like Jesus did when he was ‘led like a lamb led to slaughter’. How can I know when it’s right for the truth to be spoken?

A defense given for the sake of truth is one thing and a defense given for the sake of wounded pride is another. Because there was no sin in Jesus’ heart, and because he rose to offer a defense, I might conclude that defending myself just might be a righteous act.  But how and why I make it is the real issue.

The fact that Jacob had waited so long to set the record straight is probably evidence that he had worked through his injustice with God. His rage was long gone. On the day of their final goodbye, it was only right for Laban to hear the lineup of past events from a righteous point of view.

Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and reveal all things to their hearts. That was their comfort, and it is also mine when the subtleties of navigating relationships leave me confused. When wronged, the Spirit of God will convict me of wounded pride even when the offense is real. When emotions are hot, He will nudge me to restrain my speech. When worked up, I can make no rational speech. “How dare you do this to me!” is too much on the tip of my tongue.

You have helped me, and are helping me, break the cycle of silence without acting out of anger.  Balance, Lord! I lean on You.  Amen

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