July 01, 2020 – Wednesday
2 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
If you are looking for examples of self-righteousness in the Bible you will find a great example here. And made no mistake here for Jesus is truly condemning self-righteousness herein. He really drives the point home in the first part of verse five, Everything they do is done for people to see. This is especially true if it makes them look good compared to others.
You may want to attribute this to hypocrisy and leave it at that, but it is worse, much worse. Consider this example in Luke 18:9-14 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
It is amazing Luke wrote To some who were confident of their own righteousness for that is almost a textbook description of self-righteousness. Thus the question to us is how confident are we of our own righteousness? The more confident we are the more at risk we are of looking down at others. Maybe we don’t exalt ourselves in public, but only internally. Doesn’t matter, Jesus didn’t name any exceptions. He chose the example for His parable because His disciples were sure to have seen such behavior in the past at one time or another. But His warning came in the last part of the last verse of His parable For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Do you know anyone who goes to church every single Sunday, rain or shine, snow or no snow? The question is why? Is it because they want to be there no matter what? Is it because they can’t wait to learn something new from God’s Word? Is it because they simply want to enjoy the fellowship of other believers? All valid reasons in my opinion. Or is it so they can sit there beaming feeling superior because they made it in when others did not. This last clearly is a form of self-righteousness and of self exaltation. Confession time: I have gone to church no matter what for all the above reasons, including the bad one.
In fact I see a lot of the same today concerning masks and the Chinese flu. It doesn’t matter if you are wearing a mask or not wearing a mask. Are you wearing a mask to signal your virtue? Or are you not wearing a mask to signal your virtue? See, it can work in both directions. Those around you cannot see your heart and know why you are wearing a mask, but God can and does.
That’s the key to all of this. God can see into our hearts and know why we do or don’t do whatever is at question. He knows. That is why Jesus said in His parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, speaking of the tax collector I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. Why is this so? Because the self-righteous person not only defends himself or herself by contrasting and comparing their behavior with others, they also find some way, any way, to blame others for their own sinful behavior.
Such people include each and every one of us. Jesus was warning His disciples and us to be on the lookout for such behavior or thinking in our own lives. It can and does happen to all of us. Our job is to always remind ourselves is that we have accepted the free gift of Grace was not only free but undeserved. Trouble arises the moment we begin thinking it was or is deserved.
There are pastors or church leaders who would never admit to being a sinner in any way at all. They ignore John’s statement in 1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. We ignore John’s warning here at our own peril