I offer this as brief haunt to a self-convicted attitude.
It requires spiritual finesse to walk between the extremes of perceptiveness vs. priggishness.
Between being smart or self-righteous. Discerning or Damning. Clever or Condemning. Self-righteousness is loathsome. It’s a sneaky venom that enters our members by the bite of unsuspecting pride. Our good deeds become tainted with an heir of subtle self-superiority.
So I was pricked when a co-worker told me about an old country church, that had it’s home-coming yesterday. I listened to the event details with confirmation bias, quickly striking mental X’s across any serious legitimacy towards that pitiable church. Seriously? Can anything good or substantive come from such a church? Among a people who:
- don’t understand historical theology
- make church an extended family club, rather than a diverse community of true disciples.
- regard the “Preacher” as the flawed but charismatically transcendent ring leader.
- make dress, fashion and material displays the THING.
- are minimalist in their approach to scripture
- are just so different philosophically that I’d need a NASA GPS to find common ground.
I could offer more empirical data on this church that troubled me. But that’s not my point. My point is that in spite of how true my observations are, my spirit too easily scoffs at their plight with a self-righteous attitude. How easily our attitudes can be so fixed to condemn that at some point we may grow recalcitrant to any genuine work of God happening in such a church. We create an “us” vs. “them” divide. I don’t lament my discoveries as much as I lament my attitude, which too quickly forgets that I am a helpless sinner brought to the table of Grace through the finished work of Christ. I should remember to guard myself against a Godly discernment that quickly can lapse into smug self-righteousness:
Romans 12:3 “I say to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he out to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
Gal 6:3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
2Co 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
Pro 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Pro 16:19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Luk 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Php 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Ecc 7:16 Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?
Being shrewd and wise as serpents will cause us to be unliked, but I offer these verses as a counter-active against self-righteousness. We also must be gentle as doves, and these verses are offered to provide a guard against we who tend to think we “know it all.”