Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

Thirty years ago, I stopped a pickpocket. It happened on Nassau Street in lower Manhattan as I watched a man match his stride with the woman in front of him. When he was close enough, he reached into her coat pocket from behind and lifted out her wallet.

She was clearly oblivious to what was happening, so I said something. Actually, I shouted something. It wasn’t very profound. More on the order of, “Hey, you! That’s not yours! Give it back!”

The victim stopped and turned around. The thief did the same. Then he said something I’ll never forget. “Mind your own business!”

That’s right. He chastised me for interfering with his “business.”

I hadn’t thought of that incident in a while…until today. Today I received another one of those scammer calls. You know, the one where someone calls from “Windows” and says they’ve seen “suspicious activity” on your computer…and they can help.

I’ve received so many of these calls that I was getting aggravated. No matter what I said or did, I couldn’t stop them. But I confess lately I’ve been having a little fun at their expense. If they’re going to call for the purpose of scamming me and I’m helpless to stop the calls, it gives me a tiny bit of satisfaction to cause them grief, too. So I might ask them to repeat themselves umpteen times before I hang up. Or I might feign cluelessness about owning a computer, so how could they have received notification of suspicious activity?

Today, a scammer called (again!) and I messed with the caller (again!). But his response left me speechless…and reminded me of the pickpocket from thirty years ago. When he realized I wasn’t falling for his line, he chastised me for wasting his time! He had called me for fraudulent purposes, intending to scam me, yet he had the nerve to say I’m wasting his time?

Clearly the pickpocket and the scammer both subscribed to the philosophy, “The best defense is a good offense.”

Then I thought of how I often respond when I’m under the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Yup. The best defense is a good offense.

Lord, I know I’m supposed to forgive, but what she did is so much worse!
Lord, if I don’t get this job, then it’s your fault if I can’t pay my bills.
Lord, I know you said I need to put others’ interest ahead of my own, but if you want me to glorify you, I need that opportunity.

Sigh. What I need is humility. I need to call my behavior what God calls it. Unforgiveness is sin. Pride is sin. Selfishness is sin. The best defense is not a good offense. The best defense is humility and surrender to the Holy Spirit. Because, in reality, I have no defense of my own for sin. I only have the payment made by Jesus Christ on my behalf.

My best defense is my only defense. His name is Jesus.

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