First in His Own Cause Prov. 18:17 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
This proverb is classically illustrated by a child who tattles to Mom about a sibling’s misdeed or cruelty only to find after inquiry that the tattler was the one who started the whole thing anyway – he was first in his own cause but he was searched out and found to be guilty instead of innocent.
In debate, the affirmative tells their side and they sound so convincing you are ready to believe what they have said – then the negative gives their rebuttal and suddenly the affirmative looks weak and unconvincing.
In court, the plaintiff presents his case and you are ready to award him a judgment, until the defense gets up and cross examines and presents its case – then you think how did this plaintiff ever get this far, what a ridiculous case.
We’ve seen missionaries who have done this to other missionaries – their motive was envy or embarrassment – the one who is first in his cause lies about the other missionary – if no inquiry is made then the mission board chastens the innocent party unknowingly – however, if inquiry is made and the search by the neighbor is on, then it will be discovered that the tattler was covering himself and that the person he accused is really innocent of the “charge.”
On the internet, a fellow sends an email to his friends warning of a virus – you get all excited and forward it to your inbox – a search is made and one of your friends emails back that the warning was just a hoax – you got all excited about your cause for nothing only to find out after the search that you yourself should have made that search before ever stating your cause.
In politics this is terribly abused – one politician who wants to be elected [first in his own cause] attacks the other politician, and feels just in doing it – however, if he is the media’s boy, no search is made by the neighbor – often if the search is made it becomes immediately apparent that the man who was first in his own cause was not “Just” – this was the birth of conservative talk radio – they wanted to search the liberal media, to let you hear another side that would cause you to question whether what you had been told the first time was the truth.
In soul winning we do this very thing – the man justifies himself first and then he is searched by the gospel only to be found unjust 1 Pet 3:18 – if he accepts the search he will receive the Lord.
So what should we do about this proverb?
- Don’t be first in your own cause unless you are prepared to be searched
- If you can’t stand up to the search then you are not ready to state your cause
- Never believe the first thing you hear especially if it concerns the cause of the man who is telling it
- Don’t react or respond to the first thing you hear until you have done the search – otherwise you should let what you hear go in one ear and out the other