Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Justifying Ourselves Or Accepting Responsibility?

There was a situation that was bothering me and I let myself get somewhat bitter about it. I would try to tell myself it didn't really matter and I was right in my reactions, but my spirit was uneasy whenever I thought about this person or the situation. Then I would try to make myself feel better by telling myself I have the right to be annoyed because of the way this other person had reacted. Tonight I was under conviction and wanting to make it right - the Holy Spirit wouldn't let me go until I had been reconciled with this person. I wrote an apology, and in it I stated I was sorry for my reactions - but then I had justified myself, in a way stating that I did this because you did that. Then hit Send. Then my heart smote me. That isn't an apology, that is not taking responsibility for my actions, words, etc. That is still placing the blame on others. How many times have we all (especially me) been guilty of that?

Thank the Lord that this reply was sent through a message board that allowed me to edit or delete this private message up until the time the person read it. They had not yet done so. I corrected it and accepted complete blame for my actions. While I was thinking about this, I realized there were some Biblical principles I had been overlooking. I want to share those with you - as a reminder to myself, and as an exhortation to you not to fall into the same trap I had fallen into.

1) If I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I am responsible for ALL my personal moral decisions. No one else can make me sin. Being bitter and responding sinfully in my anger is wrong, no matter how you look at it - even if my original anger may have been justified. (I emphasize "may", because too often it is not.)

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Psalms 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

I have a choice whether to be bitter or not, regardless of the situation that tempted me (not forced me - no one or nothing can force you to sin) to be so. I can choose not to get annoyed at others, especially at my brethren in Christ. No one else can make me stumble - and if I do get offended (ie. stumble at the actions of others), then it shows I don't love God's Word as I should and that I am not leaning upon the Lord as much as I ought to do.

Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

2) An apology is accepting personal blame for our conduct (whether words or actions). When we justify ourselves for doing evil, we are not really accepting the whole blame. If the Lord God expects us to acknowledge our personal responsibility before Him, how can we think we are doing right when we do not do this with our fellow man?

Accepting responsibility first starts with being truthful with ourselves and with God.

Psalms 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Then it means realizing who we have sinned against primarily.

Psalms 51:3-4 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Then it means making amends with our brethren, whom we have wronged. At times it may mean seeking to be reconciled even when we don't believe we are at fault. If we know a brother or sister has something against us, God still tells us to do what we can to reconcile the situation.

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

3) Repentance means changing our minds about the situation - about our sin, about our conduct. When I was justifying myself, I was not looking at the situation correctly. When I repented, I changed my mind about my conduct and acknowledged that I was wholly at fault. True repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of conduct. Now that I had changed my mind about my actions, I was in a position to change my future conduct as well. The Holy Spirit showed me that my conduct was not pleasing to Him, and that I needed to make it right with Him and with the person offended.

Psalms 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It is sad that too often our attempts to correct our sins is mixed with sin itself! Praise the Lord for His Word and His indwelling Holy Spirit that can reveal the sin that we are so often blinded too!

Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Now that the Lord has opened my eyes to the corruption in my own heart, I can confess and forsake the sin - and receive His mercy. Praise the Lord for His forgiveness and cleansing!

July 19th/06
Jerry Bouey


Bro Tim said...

Bro Jerry AMEN AND AMEN. I too have been in this position and it is a humbling experience to admit wrong in something. Our flesh does not want to do that. As matter of fact are flesh wants to keep feeding the anger and the bitterness that we may get. It is amazing how many peoples lives have been destroyed because of this very thing. Bro Jerry thanks for this reminder and I am so glad for his forgiveness and cleansing when I make bone headed mistakes.
Bro Tim

Kate said...

Bro. Jerry, this was very convicting for me as well. I am ashamed and need to make this right in my own life. I praise God for your blog today!!! Thank you for heeding the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and sharing it!!!

Sis. Julie said...

Bro. Jerry...Praise the Lord!! You said somethings that are so true that not many people are willing to admit. First of all people are so quick to blame the devil for "making" them do things. First of all...the devil MAKES no one do anything. He will present the opportunity but the decision is ours to make whether we do it or not. Second you said that to not accept FULL responsibilty was not to apologize at all. We must accept FULL responsibility (as humbling as that may be) for the things we do that are wrong or as Bro. Tim said "bone-headed". Thank God that you realized where you were at with this thing and you made it right. Bitterness is a very scary thing to harbor. It separates us from God and you realized that you had to get it right. So many just can't seem to humble themselves to do that in their own lives and in turn they live without the peace of God and His fellowship. I hope this helps others as they read your post!!!

Kate said...

Bro. Jerry, I just wanted you to know I've been missing my daily blessings from your blogs!! I wanted you to know they are missed!

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