“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” -Isaiah 53:5-6
Can you tell me the answer to this question, “Who were the self-righteous people in the New Testament?” If you have read through the four gospels then you will know that these fellows seemed to be in trouble with Jesus all the time. They were the Scribes and Pharisees, the religious teachers and leaders of that day. They thought they were better than other people, and much higher than the ordinary man. This feeling pervaded spiritual leaders, and even Christ’s own disciples had an argument one day about who was the greatest. Jesus, overhearing this said, “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:26-27) In this story, Jesus introduces to us the idea of spiritual leaders taking on the role and attitude of a servant. What a shocking thought that must have been to His followers.
Most of the religious leaders of the day did not see themselves as servants. They put great pride in their fasting, tithing, and various spiritual rituals. This type of spiritual self-confidence can also creep into our lives, and it has a surprising way of revealing itself. One very harmful way is through harsh attitudes towards fellow disciples. Instead of praying, we gossip. Instead of reaching out to help, we hold back with a critical spirit or even worse, indifference. Maybe you have heard the saying, “When you point one of your fingers at someone else, then your other four fingers are pointing back at you.” Jesus said something similar to this when he taught us about seeing faults in other believers. “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in our own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’” (Luke 6:42)
Self-righteousness puts us under a cloak of deception, blinding us to our own faults and failures. History itself unfolds the story of many bloody religious battles inspired by Satan through his grip on self-righteous people. The truth is, if there is any good in us, it is because of Him and His righteousness. Let’s be diligent to shake the rocks of a self-righteous spirit out of our shoes, and make a fresh commitment to being the “servant of all.”
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” -Philippians 3:8-9
Prayer for Self-Righteousness:
“Lord, I do not want to be like the Scribes and the Pharisees. I desire to walk as Your humble servant. I admit that sometimes I do judge my brothers and sisters in an unkind way, and I am sorry for the times I have gossiped instead of prayed. I confess that the only good in my life is the good You have created there because of Your generous mercy. I would have no good, if it weren’t for Your goodness. I desire a new strength, Jesus, to really serve my church, family, and neighborhood in prayer and in practical ways. I ask for zeal to serve others as if I was serving You. Lead me in Your word, ‘whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God…’ yes Lord, let this be so.” In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Walking Ahead in Freedom
Pride, anger, and self-righteousness are three rocks that often get in the way along our journey of forgiveness. The Lord wants to help us remove these stumbling blocks so we can be a part of ushering in the progress of His kingdom. You may be able to think of some other rocks, like envy, greed, fear etc. Jesus will be faithful to help you with each one as you look to Him. Remember, “Our life is the loudest proclamation of the message.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” -Hebrews 12:1