Self-Righteousness is Dangerous
As sinful beings who have been pointing fingers at one another since the Fall, it should be no surprise with how swiftly we find ourselves repeating the same mistake to this very day. Accepting personal responsibility and accountability for our actions has always been challenging for us to do in our strength. It is far easier for us to simply blame others after all anyway, isn’t it? In the same vein, one thing that continues to fascinate me is how quick we are to identify and judge the sin which we see others commit failing to see our own faults.
Below, Jesus teaches us a vital lesson in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector from Luke 18:9-14:
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
As Christians, we must always avoid becoming self-righteous by understanding and recognizing that we are all products of God’s Grace–grace which was given to us freely and undeservingly. The tax collector’s prayer should mirror our prayer because we ALL need God’s Mercy! We are all sinners. The only difference between Christians and non-believers is that we have been acquitted from our sins through being justified in God’s eyes through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. We are never better than anybody, whether in comparison to non-believers or new believers alike. May we never become prideful with any of our accomplishments, thereby hindering our relationship with God, but may it instead reinforce our dependency on Him. Therefore, if we are to boast in anything let us boast solely in the Cross of Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14).
Even after we are saved, we are still just as utterly reliant on God’s Mercy and Grace during our walks of faith. Not only did none of what we did provide us with salvation, but we are also sustained throughout our Christian Walk with this same Mercy and Grace. Let us constantly be reminded of the extremely high price which we were purchased by on the Cross and that it was all entirely unmerited. Consequently, God owes us nothing! We have no right to ever feel entitled to any blessings from God and certainly to never become spiritually-prideful. It was Jesus’ blood which has made us blameless in the first place so let’s allow our thoughts, words, and actions to overflow in gratitude with an outpouring of His love to everyone!
Ultimately, sin is sin within God’s eyes so instead of casting judgments upon our neighbour who sins differently, let us be propelled to share the Gospel all the more. In doing so, may we never forget (1) that it was fully God’s Merciful doing in the first place to free us from sin’s grasp(Romans 6) and (2) our continued complete reliance on God’s Grace.
Lord, may we constantly be reminded that it was Your Mercy and Grace which saved us and which continues to sustain and empower us throughout our Christian Walk. Help us to completely surrender and submit to You our everything. I pray that John 15:5 underscores our dependency on You, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing”. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.