As followers of Christ we have to guard ourselves against “self righteousness.” Jesus had some specific words to those who “were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.” (Luke 18:9). He told a parable of two men who went down to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
“God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” (His prayer was all about himself and focused on what he has done for God)
Tax Collector’s Prayer:
“God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (His prayer focused on what God could do for him)
Jesus goes on to state that the tax collector went home “justified before God” not the Pharisee. “For everyone who exalts himself (the Pharisee) will be humbled, and he who humbles himself (the Tax Collector) will be exalted.”
The Pharisee was justified before his fellow man but not God! If you want recognition and justification in the world, then pray like a Pharisee and exalt yourself at how much better you are than the sinners of the world (ie. adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, etc.).
But if you want justification before God, then pray like the sinful Tax Collector!
We can’t be confident in our own righteousness…Romans 3:10 says there is “none righteous, no not one!” Our righteousness is as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). The only righteousness we have comes by faith in Jesus Christ! It is through His righteousness that we have a right standing with God the Father, not from our own doing.
How do you view sinners? Do you think you are so much better than them? Remember…you too were a sinner before you put your faith in Jesus. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It is only by God’s grace and forgiveness that we are cleansed from all unrighteousness, it is not of our own goodness.
Father help me to be merciful and compassionate to those around me. Especially to those who need Your forgiveness and Your righteousness. And thank you for loving me and forgiving me and cleansing me while I was still yet a sinner! May I have the same God like attitude and love toward others. Amen!