the day to search our hearts for signs of self-righteousness.
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable…” Luke 18:9 NIV
….and then Jesus went on to tell the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. In telling the story, He compared the sincerity of their prayers. While the Pharisee thanked God that he was better than everyone else, the tax collector was honest and was ashamed to even ask God to hear his prayer, admitting honestly and humbly that he was a sinner.
Jesus was very clear as to which one earned God’s favor when He said, “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14 NIV).
Sometimes it is very difficult for us to admit that we are sinners.
But God knows that we are, so when we admit it to Him, we are really admitting it to ourselves. We need to hear the words come from our own mouths: “Dear God, I am not worthy of the love You give me, but You love me anyway. I am a sinner, but You forgive me. I humbly thank You for Your love and Your forgiveness.”
We must resist the temptation to look down with self-righteousness on the sins, mistakes, and shortcomings of others. It is alright to pray for those around us, but it is certainly not alright to condemn another while expounding on our virtues.
When Jesus told the story of the prodigal son, the message was a little different but still warned against self-righteousness. Upon the younger son’s return from years of decadence, self-indulgence, and sin, the father welcomed him back with open arms. The key here is that while the younger son demanded his inheritance so he could leave home and live a life of sin, his return home was very humble and he was ashamed of what he had done and how he had lived.
“…and the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” (Luke 15:21 NASB).
Of course, the father was having none of that and his welcome was warm, loving, and forgiving. However, the older brother felt slighted and self-righteously decided his brother did not deserve the love of the father. He felt that only he should receive that love since he had stayed, worked, and demonstrated loyalty while his younger brother was out partying.
Do not fall into this trap either.
When someone admits wrongdoing and seeks to return to the family or to the church, we must set aside any suspicions or negativity, eliminate our self-righteousness, and welcome them back with support, encouragement, and love.
Search your own heart today, and if you find any pockets of self-righteousness anywhere, empty them immediately.
Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson