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The first part of this verse points out a failing that is common to most of us - we invariably present evidence in such a way as to put ourselves in the best possible light. It comes quite naturally to us. For instance, we withhold facts that would prove damaging to us and concentrate on our good points. We compare ourselves with others whose failings are more obvious. We pass the blame for our actions on to others. We assign pious motives to actions that are patently wrong. We twist and distort the facts until they have only a faint resemblance to the reality. We use emotionally colored words to paint a more favorable picture.

Adam blamed Eve, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat" (Genesis 3:12). Eve blamed the Devil, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat" (Genesis 3:13).

Saul defended his disobedience in sparing the sheep and oxen of the Amalekites by assigning a pious motive: "The people took of the spoil…to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God" (1 Samuel 15:21). He also suggested, of course, that if there was blame, it was the people's, not his.

David lied to Ahimelech in order to get weapons, saying "The king's business required haste" (1 Samuel 21:8). Actually David wasn't on the king's business; he was fleeing from King Saul.

The woman at the well withheld the truth. She said, "I have no husband" (John 4:17). Actually she had had five husbands and was now cohabiting with a man to whom she was not married.

And so it goes! Because of our fallen nature, inherited from Adam, it is difficult for us to be completely objective when presenting our own side of a matter. Our tendency is to picture ourselves in the most favorable light. We can have a kindly regard toward sins in our own life when we would vigorously condemn those same sins in someone else's.

"He that is first in his own cause seemeth just, but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him," that is, when his neighbor has a chance to testify, he gives a more accurate presentation of the facts. He exposes all the subtle attempts at whitewashing and self-vindication. He tells the story without distortion.

Ultimately God is our Neighbor - the One who brings to light the hidden things of darkness and reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart. He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we are to walk in unclouded communion with Him, we must be honest and aboveboard in all our testimony, even if it results in our own undoing.


Bible Verses: Proverbs 18:17Genesis 3:12Genesis 3:131 Samuel 15:211 Samuel 21:8John 4:17

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