For the Defensive Prone Heart

Do you secretly hate critical feedback, unsought suggestions, or being told you are wrong? Do you ever feel the need to over explain or give 3 points for why you failed? Or, do all of the above take place in your mind in order to save face? Why do we do this?

We have a defensive prone heart. I say "we" because I'm right there with you. The Lord has recently revealed this character flaw to me and the repentance which followed has brought so much healing to my relationships with man and God. That being said, I want to give 3 common reasons for the defensive prone heart and 3 practical ways to walk in freedom.

Three Common Reasons

  1. Pride
    Proverbs 16:18 tells us that pride comes before destruction. But what does this mean? Pride, essentially, makes everything about us. When the occasion arises, your heart is ready to defend you- because you want to walk away clean. You want to be able to explain why you failed so you don't have to bear the weight of your own insufficiency. This is the opposite of a heart of humility. A humble heart is aware of its inadequacy and doesn't attempt to clear its record, but rather, seeks to listen (James 1:19). When our eyes are fixed on ourselves and not on Jesus, we quickly try to appear better than we really are. However, this only leads us into deeper dissatisfaction by shrinking the payment Christ made for our inadequacies.

  2. Forgotten Identity
    We don't have to fight, prove, or defend that we are better than we are because the only righteousness we have is in Christ alone. Even Paul, who had a pretty good record, realized that everything was rubbish... compared to the perfect righteousness we get through Christ. Phillipians 3:9 says "and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith." When we forget what defines us, we constantly try to defend and define ourselves with good works- but they are rubbish and gain us nothing apart from Christ.

  3. Your Story
    This may not apply to you, but maybe it does. Recently, in processing my own story, I've seen that my defensive prone heart traces all the way back to my childhood. I've been this way as long as I can remember. I remember my defensive face coming out when I relentlessly tried to prove my innocence and my parents didn't believe me. I remember living under the belief, modeled by the world around me, that it's not okay to fail- and if you do, you have to cover it up or defend yourself to the death of why it wasn't your fault. Seeing this brought compassion to the brokenness in my story and grace to my still struggling heart. More than that, it has pushed me to fight to walk in repentance for the sake of knowing God; so that the people around me see the way that the true Gospel is fleshed out in my life.

3 Practical Ways to Walk in Freedom

  1. Repent and Believe.
    Simple enough. Repent of your prideful, defensive heart and believe in the Gospel.

  2. Take time to process what part of the Gospel you're not believing and functioning out of.
    Instead of trusting in Christ and His Righteousness, you have trusted in your own. Repent and believe that His work is totally sufficient for you.

  3. Take a look into your story and identify if this is fleshing out from past brokenness.
    Maybe this is new, or maybe you have been aware of this for a long time. Either way, I think it is helpful to ask yourself where this comes from, in order that you truly walk in freedom instead of living out of that place.
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