To me “self-righteousness” is a term referring to people that lose sight of their own need for grace and mercy, who constantly want to point out the faults in others while refusing to look at their own. Self-righteous people have a tendency to be merciless, and as a result they miss out on much of the blessing of the Lord because “blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy of the Lord” (Matt.5:7). Nothing eradicates self-righteousness more than tests, trials, and hardships that people go through. Nothing deals with self-righteousness more than the humbling that comes through a person’s mistakes, especially if those mistakes are embarrassing and shameful. We all need God’s grace, and there is no one righteous, no not one (Rom.3:10), save our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The only righteousness we have is his righteousness. The only righteousness we get is because of the price he paid for us when we were still yet sinners (Rom.5:8). We do well to remember this truth.
AN INCREASE IN SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE WORLD & THE CHURCH
As the church, we are the salt and we are the light to the world. We are called to influence the world with the goodness of God, with the character and nature of Christ, with the gospel and the power of the Spirit, but unfortunately not everyone in the church is operating the way Christ meant for his church to operate day to day. As a result the world ends up influencing much of the church. This is why with each passing year and each passing decade the church looks, acts, talks, and behaves more like the world in many places. This is not the trend that God has intended for his people.
Within this “world influencing the church” paradigm we see a startling rise in self-righteousness. People in the media, people in politics, people who are engendered to what’s been called “social justice” have become increasingly self-righteous. Everyday it seems there is another person made to walk the public walk of shame for things they did, words they spoke, or gestures they made, and the ones snapping the whips to fuel the self-righteous machine of merciless attacks do not give a single thought to just how antichrist there actions truly are. This has been dubbed cancel culture, and it is absolutely sinful and wicked. Forgiveness in the media doesn’t exist as long as you can somehow portray another’s mistake as racist, misogynist, sexist, or hate speech. Isn’t it ironic that some of the most hateful racist people in the world today are the ones claiming to be fighting hate and racism. This shows just how much deception and demonic influence is at work in this self-righteousness.
We should heed the warning of Jesus when He told us that if we don’t forgive others then God will not forgive us (Matt.6:15). Forgiveness means to forget and to give someone else a pardon for their wrong doing, because God in his great mercy and grace pardoned you, even when you were still a wicked sinner. But the world does not know God’s mercy and grace, therefore all they have to look forward to is the wrath and judgment which come upon all unbelievers (Jn.3:36; Rom.2:5).
It grieves my heart terribly how much hatred and how much self-righteousness is being justified today in our world. It grieves my heart to see people who have no understanding of just how great the sacrifice was that Jesus Christ paid in proportion to just how great our sin is. Great is our sin and greater is his love, and for those who have tasted and seen this goodness it is impossible for them to not forgive others. It is impossible for them to not love others and not give grace and mercy freely as it has been freely given to them (Matt.10:8).
EVEN YOU HAVE CURSED OTHERS
“For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.
Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.
For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.â€
In closing this article today I would just like to take this scripture from Ecclesiastes and remind us all of this wisdom. I wish to use this scripture to remind us of the gospel. Wisdom would instruct us today to humble ourselves in the sight of God and be careful to not become self-righteous knowing that in many cases the things we become so upset with others for are the very things we ourselves have done many times. We get so upset when we hear about others talking behind our backs, when we hear about others who have used their words to curse us and not bless us, but the truth is, just as this scripture reveals, we ourselves have done the same exact thing. We would be wise to remember this. It’s not that we tolerate such things or consider such things okay. The takeaway here is to always remember that there is none righteous, no not one (Rom.3:10), save our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, and we all need grace and mercy.
The gospel needs to be remembered, it needs to be preached, and it needs to be lived in and through our lives to show the world a better way. I’m particularly moved when I see social justice leftist warriors who are so vicious in their attacks and so self-righteous and heartless in their actions that they absolutely find ways to justify. My heart is moved because they are so far from God and it is so evident for those who have eyes to see. They are so far from understanding what true mercy and grace is, which is evident in their great lack of mercy and grace that they show toward others.
Remember, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet.4:8). If the love of Christ is at work in your heart, when you see other people’s wrongs, when you see other people’s weaknesses or mistakes, your first instinct should be to cover them, not to expose them. Your first instinct should be to pray, to love, and to show mercy. It should not be to go on a merciless exposure campaign to ruin another person’s life because you’re so much better than them. If an ounce of this kind of thinking or behavior is in you then you need to repent now and receive Christ afresh. Repent now and receive the gospel. Great was your sin and greater still was his love and forgiveness toward you, and as you’ve freely received you are charged by the Lord to freely give (Matt.10:8).
In His Service,