I Don’t Want to be Justified

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As many of you read, I’m releasing my book in a little under two weeks. I am, therefore, spending a lot of time smoothing out details and trying to get everything perfect.

One of the first orders of business is the tagline. I have one that I almost like but it doesn’t sound quite right….

“What would you sacrifice for someone else’s freedom?”

I have issues with the ‘someone else’ bit and I couldn’t figure out why. So I posted the question to some fellow writers on google+ and most said it was too vague.

They wanted to know who this ‘someone else’ was. It’s a fair question. After all, shouldn’t we give more for a loved one than a stranger?

So I went about trying to find a descriptive noun to make both me and my readers happy. And that’s when it dawned on me: I don’t want description, I want justification.

My first thought when asked what I would give for ‘someone else’ is who this person is. Am I being asked to give $30 a month to free a child from poverty? Or a few minutes of my time to free that homeless person on the street from loneliness? Or is it going to cost me more than that?

We humans, Christians included, do this a lot. When the opportunity arises for us to give something up for the sake of someone else, we want to know why we should so we can find a good reason why we don’t really have to.

A perfect example of what I’m talking about can be found in Luke 10. Here, a lawyer is asking Jesus what he must do to enter the kingdom of heaven. Short answer: ‘Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.’

Look at the lawyer’s response in vs. 29:

But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

We want to justify that voice inside that says, “Someone else will do it, you do enough,” or “Do you really have the time for that? After all, I think there are other things on your schedule that are more important.”

I’m a pretty good debater and I can talk myself into or out of almost anything. I can take even a vague command and find justification to disobey it.

But does a neighbor, a ‘someone else,’ really need to be anyone more than a fellow human being in order for me to sacrifice for them? Even if I lay down my life for a stranger, that doesn’t even come close to approaching the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf.

In the end, I don’t want to be justified, I want to be blameless.

This, of course, doesn’t solve my dilemma over the tagline. It makes for a great self-teaching moment, but many people aren’t going to think about it deeply enough to ask the question, ‘does it matter who they are if I can help them?’

I’ll have to pray about it and see what I think the Lord wants me to say.

Meanwhile, I’m going to ask God to give me both the opportunities and desire to make sacrifices for ‘someone else.’ 

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About Leah Ness

I am a self-professed story addict. Ever since I was little, I've had an overactive imagination and a passion for a well-spun yarn. When I grew up, I was blessed with a passion for God as well. It was then that I noticed a relative shortage of unique Christian fiction, the kind that can both captivate you and glorify God. So, despite the hurdles of things like commas and homonyms, I am endeavoring to write some of my own. Check out my Books page for updates on current and future books. View all posts by Leah Ness

6 responses to “I Don’t Want to be Justified

  • Brandi

    As I was reading this, you said “After all, shouldn’t we give more for a loved one than a stranger?” Immediately, the hairs on the back of my neck went up. Strangers should be loved ones as well. I believe that’s the point of Luke 10 (and, all of Jesus’ teachings). Now granted, I do understand what you meant… but that was my first reaction.

    You’re correct though in that often we are looking for justification. We want that way out. But the truth is, we should be sacrificing ourselves not for someone else… but for anyone else. We should be willing to do anything we are capable of for everyone who is in need.

    Sorry I can’t really help with the wording of your tagline… but wanted to give my two cents on this post (great post, by the way!)

    • Leah Ness

      To be honest, it made me cringe to write that line, but I believe a lot of people do think that way and I wanted to make a strong point. This is why we want clarification. Most of us would sacrifice our lives for our family but few of us are willing to sacrifice five minutes to the woman behind us in line at Wal-Mart.
      As you said, we should be willing to sacrifice for anyone.
      Thanks for reading, I appreciate your ‘two cents’ =)

  • agapetheologian

    Great post. Thank you for sharing!

  • Susan Irene Fox

    What a great post, Leah. Thoughtful and deeply personal. It’s a question we as Christians continually have to ask ourselves. “What would I sacrifice for your freedom?”

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