Self-Righteous Attorneys

John 16:13a says, “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…”

When not resisted in my life, the Holy Spirit points out my spiritual blinders and invites me to see the contradictions that need leveling, the hypocrisies that need equalizing, and the entitlements that need eradication. In daily musings, the worst of all my blinders is my inner defense of my own goodness. It comes so naturally. My conclusion that I am not as bad as human traffickers or drug smugglers; my satisfaction with the good things I have done; my pride in the things I’ve achieved. My not-so-badness as a wife, a mother, a friend, or an employee.

My whole case is built around personal satisfaction and fulfillment, and never about serving others in loving reflection of my Savior Jesus Christ. Never about kindness that is not burdensome to show. Never about laying down my life except for my own prosperity as a fundamental human right. As I excuse myself from some forms of service, celebrating my introvert personality style, I also take one step further into “church introversion” which seems sometimes to have forgotten the Great Commission. Conclusion: I’m not much embarrassed by my self-focus unless the Holy Spirit lets me see it up close.

While I have become a self-righteous attorney, daily defending my own goodness, the Holy Spirit has been whispering these questions in my heart: Why does my Martha-method-of-operating keep usurping Mary’s better way – sitting at the feet of Jesus? Why does my busy ministry schedule prevent me from spending time in life-changing prayer? Why do I hesitate to leave my comfort zone and help others when it is not convenient or when I don’t feel competent? Why am I enslaved to my own sense of perfectionism? Why do I attempt to do God’s work in my own strength and with my own resources?

I have rested my case out of self-righteousness on a daily basis. I give in to inward preoccupation. “Me” is what rules me and routinely hijacks my heart. “Me” is what replaces God. I should not be surprised at the human heart, of which mine is one. Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” No wonder something other than God is always ruling my heart. No wonder something is always impinging on my heart and not God.

For a Christ-follower, the great victory of salvation was won in my place by Jesus Christ, but day after day I fight battle after battle of self-focus…and I forget the Lord’s promise to be with me and to give me His power to meet these battles. Deuteronomy 31:6,8 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you…The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

In the battle zones of self rule, the Holy Spirit can surely be trusted to take my blinders down and redirect my heart so there is a spiritual sense of going upward, victoriously one step at a time. God faithfully overturns my verdicts of self-sufficiency, self-confidence, independence, right of ownership, freedom to boldly assert my opinions, and freedom to do what I want. I can trust Him in this process.

As a leader in a local Bible study ministry, I was recently asked to consider God’s changing of Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28) and to imagine what my own name change would have been if Jesus had assigned me these. It wasn’t difficult to decide – my old name was definitely “Rebel” and my new name was “Respecter.” I now have a bookmark that reminds me of these names. Am I still a self-righteous attorney? Sometimes. But, within the daily battles, I am actually ascending God’s stairway, not through works, but through deeper faith in Him Who has the power to change my heart. As a Christ-follower, I am learning to give up my right to be right as often as God’s Spirit convicts me. I am learning to lay my opinions, convenience, and ideals aside for the most important ideal – Christ in me, the hope of glory. I can definitely trust Him in this process, for He is my faithful attorney. He is the One Who will never leave me. He is the One Who will never forsake me. He is the One Who removes my blinders and gives me eyes to see.

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