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Proverbs 18:17, He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him. (The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him)
Have you ever been a juror? Our system of justice demands that both sides of a story be told.
If you are a juror you are instructed to hold your opinion until both the plaintiff and the defendant present their arguments.
We all accept this system in a court of law. But do we accept this outside the court room?
It is our nature to side with the first case presented. All we know is one side.
That side is always in favor of the one telling the story. It is always slanted for the benefit of the teller.
And we naturally favor the first telling. As the old proverb says, "the first tale is good till the second is heard."
Our proverb this week warns us not to justify ourselves.
Our fallen nature tends toward self-flattery and self-embellishment, does it not?
We highly value the talents we think we have and it is easy to embellish and enhance them in the telling.
And we are blind to our imperfections.
So we are ready to place our own cause in a strong bright light.
We so easily cast a shadow over anything that might bring a balance from the other side.
If this is true in us, it is as true in children. Your children even! No! Can that be?
How easy it is to get caught up in a one sided story with our children. How easy for teachers to believe some children without hearing the other child's story.
But the wise man tells us someone, perhaps our neighbor, who is acquainted with the other side will expose us and put us to shame.
This verse tells us that there is a searching process that reveals the other side and shows us that there may be wrongness of a hasty, one sided judgment.
Eloquence can easily make a bad cause, coming first seem just. The plaintiff is always right, until the defendants case has been opened.
The true rule of justice is to hear both sides and to judge neither the right or the left until both are heard.
Principles to adopt:
In our own cause watch against a self justifying spirit. (Are you truly always right?)
Cultivate a spirit of self-distrust.
Balance our enemy's statement against our own prejudices.
Judge as under the searching eye of God.
David understood this need as he expressed in Psalm 19:12-14, Who can under his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; (sins that are caused from presuming, coming to a conclusion before you know the facts) let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.