May 15, 2017
The “Urban Dictionary” defines a self-righteousness person as, “A person who acts superior to his peers because he believes his moral standards are perfect. This “moral smugness” is condescending by nature and is usually found offensive by others. Self-righteousness is a way unintelligent and nonathletic people can retain a sense of superiority. Various cults and religions promote self-righteousness in an attempt to convert the average person, who feels immoral by comparison.”
Do you remember the story of the woman who came to Jesus and washed His feet with her hair? Luke 7:37-38 “When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” I believe that one of the lessons that we can learn from this story is how Jesus rejected the self-righteousness of the Pharisee whose house he had been invited to. Luke 7:39 “When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner.” Maybe the Pharisee was annoyed that this woman had arrived at his house uninvited or maybe he was embarrassed that his guests had to see this disgraceful display from a woman who did not belong to his circle of friends. Whatever the reason for his displeasure, his attitude reflects the spirit of self-righteousness that many people in Christian churches have today. The Bible warns against this sin.
Proverbs 30:12-13 “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet, is not washed from its filthiness. There is a generation oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.” This proverb warns against the sin of self-righteousness. God condemns this sin here by telling us that it cannot make the self-righteous person pure. Romans 10:3-4 “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Paul is writing that self-righteousness is an outward sign that someone has rejected God’s righteousness. A person who is self-righteousness, displays their own legalistic self-pride and chooses to reject Christ who is full of grace and truth.
It’s probably safe to say that most of us have come across self-righteous individuals and can testify to just how offensive they are to us. In this passage Jesus teaches Simon a lesson that is so important for each of us to learn in this day and age in which we live. Luke 7:40-47 “Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarius, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Just when we are getting a little full of ourselves God reminds us that we need to stop and remember just how much He has forgiven us of, and just like this woman, it should lead us to worshipping Jesus not feeling puffed up about our accomplishments. It should cause us to love sinners and desire to share with them how their sins can be forgiven, and it should result in our rejecting the spirit of self-righteousness and feeling that we are better than someone else.
It’s clear that God’s Word teaches us, that as we reject self-righteousness, we are to walk with humility. Humility brings blessings and unlocks more grace to a true servant of Christ. Self-righteousness is a characteristic of an unbeliever in Christ: The Bible talks about those who are self-righteous in Isaiah 65:5 “‘Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too sacred for you!’ Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day.”
As we end a school year I pray that our children and our students see each of us as humble servants of God who are examples of humility and who love them just as Jesus loves them, no matter what they may say or do. Our opportunities to influence them diminish as they grow older. May we use each day that we have to love them to Jesus, who accepts each one of them, just the way they are.