Message Library

Defensive Behavior

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Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4

Defensive behavior occurs when an individual perceives a threat. A defensive person will normally expend a substantial amount of energy in defending him or herself. Defensive people may be sensitive about how they appear to others or their identity may be threatened when confronted by another. Their defensive behavior is used to escape punishment or to avoid a perceived attack. In an emotionally defensive state, one’s ability to think rationally can be disrupted. Defensive behaviors are often learned early in life and can become a normal emotional response.

To overcome our defensive behavior, we can train ourselves to respond in Godly wisdom rather than our triggered emotions. How did Christ react when he was attacked by the Pharisees? But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. (Matthew 12:22–24)

The Pharisees accused Christ of being with the prince of demons. Christ responded with truth, God’s wisdom, not uncontrolled anger. Christ knew he was God in the flesh, and no one could threaten his identity or purpose for coming to this world, not even Satan, who tempted Jesus after he fasted for forty days and nights. Do we know who we are in Christ? Do we know our divine purpose? If we do, then we can overcome defensive behavior. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:16–17)

Our identity comes from God and not from the world. You are a chosen person and God’s special possession. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9) If we know who we are in Christ, then we can stand secure in this world.

Defensive behavior can still occur when we have our identity in Christ. It can be a habitual, automatic response. Overcome the habit with the truth of who you are in Christ, and your divine purpose in life. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19) In a typical emotional responsive moment, stop, think, and seek Godly wisdom. 

God wants us to be secure in him and to have our identities and self-worth through Christ. We are God’s children, and this new identity allows us to minister to the world. We can withstand the world’s attacks without responding with defensive anger, instead responding with Godly wisdom and love. Be secure in your God given identity and know the world cannot hurt you; the Lord is with you and heaven is your home.

Today be secure and confident in Christ and respond with Godly wisdom and patience. Express gentleness and goodness with your words with a secure humble heart, and seek to avoid defensive behavior based the words of others. We defend ourselves by confidently showing truth with Godly wisdom. When we respond with a heart of love it usually disarms the other person.

Prayer: Lord, help me to overcome any long term habits causing me react with defensive anger whenever I feel mistreated. Guide me that I may stand confident in your truth and wisdom, and respond with a heart of love. Let me stand confident and strong in Christ yet humble and compassionate. In Jesus name, Amen