01/11/18 Justifying One’s Actions

READING: Genesis 20-23

“Besides, she is indeed my sister.”

Genesis 20:12

It’s as simple as this statement: if you lie, you have to work to cover it up – and then you find yourself trying to justify yourself if you’re caught. Even for those who are willing to admit their lie, it’s not unusual to rationalize more than grieve their actions.

Abraham, despite the fact that he was a friend of God (James 2:23), fell into this same trap. Fearful that the Egyptians might kill him to take his wife when he was in Egypt, he had previously lied about Sarah’s being his sister (Gen. 12:11-13). In today’s reading, he followed the same pattern with King Abimelech; “She is my sister,” the patriarch said (Gen. 20:2).

When God informed the king of Abraham’s lies, Abraham defended himself and his actions. First, he said that the people in the land did not fear God, so surely someone would have killed him had others known the truth. Second, he fell back on a half-truth to support his full lie: “Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife” (Gen. 20:12). Third, he apparently had been using this strategy since Egypt to protect himself. This ploy had worked before, and he was using it again.

Here’s the struggle with Abraham’s thinking: all of his excuses make some sense, though not one of them is acceptable. His actions betray a lack of faith in God to protect him, and his rationalizations betray his desire to protect himself. We will often go a long way to justify our wrong.


  • Be honest about any area of your life that you’re justifying wrong actions.
  • Be aware of any temptations to tell half-lies today.

PRAYER: “Make me fully honest about who I am today, God.”