The sin of self-righteousness is not easily recognized to the one who possesses this character flaw. This person has a chip on their shoulder and may have a sense of entitlement due to their pedigree, accomplishments and leadership position. Jesus shares the parable of the Pharisee who came into the temple to pray. He gloried in his own self-righteousness and felt it was his special duty to profess how well he did spiritually in comparison to others who were obvious sinners.
His prayer sounded like this:
I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income’ (Luke 18:11-12).
Apparently, he falsely believed he was spiritually aligned with God and was one of His favorites because he followed the rules of the book. He crossed his t’s and dotted his i’s. His spirituality was based on his works rather than having a personal relationship with God. On the other hand, the tax collector stood at a distance too ashamed to lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner’ (Luke 18:13)
Most may find this parable not as relatable. Who actually prays this way?! Probably only a special few. I honestly believe Jesus parable also focuses on the issues of the heart.
Many people feel in their heart they are much better than others because they sin less. I used to feel this way and once had preconceived judgements of unwed mothers or those who were divorced. My thoughts were that I grew up in a Christian family and I surrendered my life to Christ at 18 years old so I’d do it the right way. Life has a way of humbling us!
I thank God for allowing life circumstances to teach me He must increase while I decrease. The more I allow Jesus to decrease me the more of a heart I have for others and the less likely I am to prejudge. I hear so many believers say God has called them to the nations; they have a world wide ministry. Yet, I don’t see the evidence of Gods love and transformation in their lives in their interaction with others. Why do people believe they can ignore the hurting people in their home church and jump out into a world wide ministry? Charity begins at home. Have you taken the time to love on the unwed teen mom at your church? Do you reach out to the divorced woman with children and lend a helping hand? What about the young man who’s a hit and miss? Do you judge his absence or have you taken the time to get to know him and become more aquatinted? We walk past familiar faces Sunday after Sunday but have we put a name to those faces or are we just content in only talking to those in our circle or those who we feel can add to our life and boost our social status?
Young men and women do you respect the elders at your church? We live in a different generation. I was taught at a young age by my grandma that if you see someone in passing (whether you know them personally or not) you speak to them out of common courtesy. Nowadays, I see young people who are so aloof and will not speak. Sadly, for many Christianity has become a performance. People are gung ho about being on the stage and preaching and singing to the masses but off the stage they don’t exemplify the character of Christ. They only speak to certain people while acting as if others don’t exist. This is not the love of Christ and this is not how Jesus did ministry. Jesus loved people and he wasn’t selective in who He interacted with; He was always willing to meet new friends. He took advantage of every opportunity to encourage, teach, heal and love on those He saw in passing on a regular basis. Can you imagine the tragedy of Jesus being in a clique (having favorites) and only pouring out blessings and favor on the select few in His inner circle? We’d all be basket cases!
Get out of your comfort zone and reach out to someone who appears to be alone. We should be mindful of the words from an old kids nursery rhyme:
“Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.”
The young man who’s a hit and miss at church might just be the next Billy Graham; the young single unwed mom may just be the next Joyce Myers. Remember God does extraordinary work through ordinary means.
Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! (Romans 12:16)