I know this guy who drives me nuts. He is one of the most judgmental people I have ever met. He seems to have an opinion on most everything. He’s well read on the Bible and uses that knowledge like a weapon. He constantly critiques the pastor, begrudges the way the church runs its ministries and basically condemns others for their ignorance. The worst thing of all is that THIS guy is….me.
I am a legalist.
I’m not proud of it. In fact, I’m ashamed to even admit it, but no matter how I look at it I can’t change the fact that I am self-righteous. If you’ve read through the gospels it is very clear that Jesus made sure to respond to sinners like me for our lack of understanding. In his famous sermon on the mount, Jesus says this about judging others:
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
One thing I’ve noticed about my self-righteousness is that it is rarely introspective. It always seems easier to judge others and see their flaws. God has been humbling me lately. I have recognized this lack of self reflection and the plank is indeed large. In this time of self reflection, I feel the Lord has revealed two things to think about when dealing with self-righteousness.
Does it bring glory to God? When I complain and judge others is God being glorified. If not, then who is? If it’s myself or my personal beliefs then I need to reevaluate the situation. This part involves a lot of prayer and reading the Word to see what God really thinks about it.
What are you doing about it? It’s one thing to sit in my high box like Statler and Waldorf making these judgments on others, but what does that accomplish. Even if my opinions are “right,” what good are they doing anyone? What if the things I see lacking at the church, are the things that God wants me to fill at the church? And If I never do anything but complain, I can only blame myself. It’s kind of like that political saying, “If you didn’t vote, you can’t complain.”
The best news of all is that my sin is not greater than God’s grace. God still loves me, even when I think I can do things without him. Thankfully I can recognize where I have strayed and be turned back around. In the grand scheme of things, we are all sinners and can never save ourselves. Yet, God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17).