I find myself using a specific word often as I write about a variety of issues: justifying. How often we justify our own behavior. We want to believe we’re right. Even when we’ve veered a little off the path, we justify ourselves by isolating a specific Scripture verse or anecdote to make what we’re doing seem okay. We point to what another person did to justify our response. We point to something unrelated that Jesus did to give us spiritual clout. And we’re wrong.
We’re wrong to justify. If we have to justify, we might be focused on ourselves more than concern, respect, and love for others. We might be focused on our own ways more than God’s. Justification on our own alienates us from Christ. Justification is his thing. We distort it. When we try to justify on our own, we separate ourselves from him, because he’s the source of justification. He’s the way of justification. He’s the example of justification. Yes, justification in our everyday lives looks different but it’s related when we stay connected and filter it through him. When we try to do it on our own—justification, wisdom, compassion, justice, love, and so on—the pride becomes our fall. We hold grace at arm’s length. The pride of faith can be our downfall just as the pride in lack of faith is.
We can be better, but that requires less effort on our own and more faith and trust in God. Take a step back today. Still yourself. Let him take inventory. Then respond well.