A friend read a cool saying to me once that really stuck with me. In essence it said that the sin you are most defensive about is the one you are struggling with the most at the time. If someone were to walk up and point out something we are doing incorrectly, it is instinct to defend ourselves. It isn't typically a natural response to humble ourselves and accept help and correction.
I have joined a friend in reading through Job together, and I love how the Lord is able to teach something new each time you read a familiar story. I have just completed the first "speech" of one of Job's friends. He was the first to highlight that the Lord may possibly have been chastening Job with the wall-to-wall storms in his life. The processing of the turn of events hit me differently than when I have absorbed the information before: what if Job had responded to his friend in humility the first time?
In so many words, Job's response was pretty much self-defense. He began to complain about what had happened, his suffering (can't say I wouldn't myself) and that his friend was perhaps suggesting it might be his fault. Now we know that at the beginning of the story his name was brought up in the heavenlies because of his blamelessness...because he feared God and shunned evil. So he's right in his argument, right?
"Let another praise you and not your own mouth..."
There is something about the Lord lifting up the humble that intrigues me. When a person who was born drop-dead gorgeous proclaims how beautiful they are, it kind puts a dab of ugly on them in my opinion. When a righteous person proclaims his/her own righteousness, it tends to have a negative effect. Sure, the Lord Himself knew that Job was actually known for his righteousness. So why does He get on to him later in the story? Job's view of his own goodness had seemingly given him an inability to accept criticism.
I am not defending the friend, because at the end of the story the Lord also pointed out that the friends had not spoken of Him what was right. I do want to offer this, however: had Job humbled himself and dared to search his heart for any reason within, I wonder if his conversation with his friends would have taken as long as it did. Had self-defense been set aside (however founded it was), maybe the breaking down/building up process would have been expedited. I don't know for sure, but I have learned this: humility is always the best response in any situation. Why? The Lord gives grace to the humble.
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord; the storms may not be because of our wrongdoing, but the lightning and thunder give us no right to stand in our own righteousness. I challenge you to seek humility and present yourself - rather than your case - before the Lord.
Father, You are the One who is able to plead our case when we are not in the wrong. Help us to trust our defense to Your hands. Search us and refine us through the storms - help us to see that our righteousness is not the anchor holding us steady. You are. In Jesus' Name. Amen.