But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
We all want to feel as though we’re right. We want to believe that the way we were raised or the way we were taught is 100 percent accurate. We want to believe that our character and conduct is unimpeachable. We want to believe we are blameless and without fault. Yet the essence of growth is in recognizing where we are wrong and choosing to repent—to turn ourselves around and do something different from what we had been doing.
The expert in the law had asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life—not because he wanted to change his life, but because he wanted affirmation that he was already “in.” Jesus asked the man how he understood the law and its commands, and he replied that the law taught that loving God and loving your neighbor was the path to eternal life. Jesus agreed, but the man was not yet satisfied. He wanted Jesus’ definition of neighbor. The Bible says he wanted to justify himself. In other words, he knew there were limits to his neighbor-love, but he wanted to hear from Jesus that what he was doing already was perfect.
If the essence of growth is repentance, then self-justification is the main obstacle to growth. May we come to Jesus desiring to know the truth of how we can be more like him.
Don’t justify yourself but seek to understand where you need to grow.
Kevin R. Scott is a pastor and author of “ReCreatable: How God Heals the Brokenness of Life”. He lives with his family in middle Tennessee.
© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.