Loving God. Loving our neighbor.

A Common Lust – Yours?

Ken Sande
I share a lust with St. Augustine. Although he was a pillar of the church, he regularly prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.”
We all inherited this lust from our original parents, who invented the art of excusing sin by blaming others. Genesis 3:9-13 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” [10] And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” [11] He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” [12] The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” [13] Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
I have struggled with this lust from my youngest days. Going to law school only made it worse (there’s no one I defend more quickly, zealously and skillfully than myself).
This lust has blinded my eyes to my own wrongs, delayed my repentance, exposed my pride, blocked God’s grace, robbed me of forgiveness, and strained relationships with people I dearly love.
I’ve found that the most effective way to fight this lust is to dwell on two crucial facts. First, I remember that my sins are far more serious than any person could ever realize … so serious that only Jesus’ death on a cross could pay for them. Ephesians 1:7 & 2:8-9 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 2:8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Second, I remember that because Jesus took my guilt on his own shoulders, God himself has vindicated me completely, declaring me “not guilty” in his sight. Colossians 1:19-20 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
When I remember that God himself has already vindicated me in Christ, it is so much easier to listen to criticism from others, to face the truth about my sin and failures, and to ask God to use the sting of human correction to show me where he is calling me to change and grow. Psalm 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Romans 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Reflection Questions:
1. Have you ever struggled with the lust of always vindicating yourself?
2. When is the last time this happened? What triggered it? How did you respond?
3. How did your response impact your relationship with other people?
4. How can dwelling on the vindication you’ve already received through Christ help you to fight the lust of trying to vindicate yourself?
5. What do these passages have to say about listening to correction: Proverbs 12:15; 13:10; 15:32; 17:10.