Recently, I read about the idea that you cannot assess the character of someone while you are in the process of defending them. This has got me thinking about defensiveness overall and how it affects us.
Several years ago I took the Sonship Training Course and in it was an exercise where you were supposed to try to go one week without defending yourself. Being the lax student that I am, I didn't even attempt to go there. In fact, I wasn't even sure that it was a worthy goal. I didn't quite get what defensiveness had to do with it. I had a lot to learn.
Fast forward 20 years and I am starting to get it. Defensiveness short circuits the learning process. It balks at self-assessment. It can be indicative of a heart that is not teachable. It loses sight of the gospel.
So what am I to do when faced with an accusation that attacks my actions or my character?
Rather than defending myself I can stop and ask if there is any truth in what was said. This can be horribly painful, but it is necessary. If indeed, the accusation is wholly untrue, then I can explain myself, if necessary, and move on with a clear conscience before both God and man. How the accuser responds is between them and God.
I think most people defend themselves because the accusation is seen as an attack on their character and nobody wants to have their flaws, failures, and sins served up on a platter. But this is where the grace of God comes in. The very essence of sanctification, of growing to be more like Christ, involves humbling ourselves before God as He exposes and transforms every nook and cranny of our lives.
So, in effect, an accusation that might have even a small element of truth in it, is a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow and praise God for His faithfulness to me and His grace that covers all my sins. For the sake of my relationship with God and with my neighbor, I need to have an open and teachable heart that knows the grace of God is the best defense.