Are you seeking vindication?
Week 47 – Celebrating 100 Years of Oswald Chambers
VERSE: “Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.” Psalm 123:3
OSWALD: “Refuse to be swamped with the cares of this life…[and] the lust of vindication. St. Augustine prayed – ‘O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.’ That temper of mind destroys the soul’s faith in God. ‘I must explain myself; I must get people to understand.’ Our Lord never explained anything; He left mistakes to correct themselves.” – (My Utmost for His Highest, November 23rd)
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How It Spoke to Me…
Although Oswald’s words were written more than eighty years ago, they seem just as applicable today.
For instance, how did he know I’d be having these exact thoughts racing through my mind all these years later?
“I must explain myself.”
“I must get people to understand.”
Oh, how we humans love to vindicate ourselves.
It reminds me of a huge meltdown I had several years ago at a family Thanksgiving. A hurt feeling leaked out and colored my words. When a loved one tried to point out a problem with my attitude, the way they did it only reinforced the hurt feeling.
Suddenly I was desperate to vindicate myself. To explain away my bad temper as rational, while pointing out how off-base and hyper-critical they were.
As you might imagine, it didn’t go well.
My pride collided with their pride and suddenly there was “wrong temper” and self-vindication all around. I spent the 45-minute drive home trying to make sense of a situation that had come out of nowhere.
“I must explain myself,” I pouted aloud between my tears. “I must make them understand.”
My husband, John, prayed for me when I got home and that helped. As did the admission that when it came right down to it, pride and ego fueled my emotional reaction – whether I was right or wrong didn’t matter, it was my response to the situation that needed work.Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Click To Tweet
As I lay on my bed praying, these wise words from an ancient philosopher came to mind, echoed by Paul’s injunction in Romans 12:18 – “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Slowly, I realized there was only one thing to do. Wipe my eyes, blow my nose, and dial my loved one’s phone number. Then humble myself and apologize.
Laying down my sword. Seeking first to understand, rather than demanding to be understood. It wasn’t easy on my ego, but it was good for my soul.
Perhaps it would do us good to echo St. Augustine’s prayer each and every day:
“Oh Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.”
Amen, Lord Jesus. Let it be so.
<< Read WEEK 46 – “The Danger of Surrogate Messiahs”
Read WEEK 48 – “When Humility Isn’t Humility” >>
I’d love to hear from you… who do you normally turn to for vindication?