October 28, 2011

In our current message series we’ve been looking at the counterfeit gods we set up in our life like sports or sex or food or things like control.  This weekend we’re looking at the fake god of self-righteousness.

Self-righteousness is about smug superiority, pride, arrogance, narcissism. Typically it involves an unfavorable comparison:

  • Not only do I think I’m bright, I think I’m brighter.
  • Not only do I think I’m strong, I think I’m stronger.
  • Not only do I think I’m good, I think I’m better…than you.

It might be intellectual superiority.  My political views are superior to yours. Some Republicans think they’re superior to Democrats, some Democrats think they’re superior to Republicans…not just right (obviously everyone thinks they’re right) instead they think themselves righteous.

People are self-righteous about their schools: their sports teams, they’re kids sports teams, they’re kids, how they raise their kids. People are self-righteous about which country club or swim club they belong to, what kind of car they drive. Where they go on vacation.

How often is this true with neighborhoods, fashions, clothes, shoes.  I had a high school teacher who always said; “you can judge a man by his shoes.” For about a year in high school I use to go around looking at people’s shoes and then guessing their character. How stupid was that? People do it all the time.

Any issue, any cause, any program any possession can become a road to self-righteousness. We may even become self-righteous because of the things that really are good about us, things we excel at.

The highest form of self-righteousness is moral superiority: I don’t just think I’m a better teacher, preacher, manager, momI think I’m a better person than you are.

And, in the whole world, the place where you are most susceptible to this kind of self-righteousness is right here in church. I don’t exactly know for sure why it is, but I’ve spent enough time around church world to know churches are breeding grounds for self-righteousness.

Jesus warned us about that, knowing it would always be a danger for the community of his followers.

We need to return to this core truth: our value and worth does not come from our performance or what we do or what we’ve done or our religious rule keeping. It comes from what God has already done for us.

When we were still helpless

God shows his love for us that while we were yet sinners,

Christ died for us.”

Romans 5.6

Sinners are helpless. When we were still in our sin, when we had nothing to recommend ourselves to God, Christ died for us.

Your heavenly Father paid for your life with the price of his Son’s blood. Why be self-righteous. You can be righteous.

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