Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: “I thank you, God, that I am not like other people – cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.” But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’ (Luke 18:10-14 NLT). The lesson in this story is, God has more tolerance for an honest sinner than a self-righteous Christian. When the Pharisee was congratulating himself for the sins he didn’t commit – cheating, adultery, etc. – he was guilty of the sin of spiritual pride.
Question: what good behaviour is a source of pride to you? Do you measure others by your performance and mark their scorecard accordingly? The only performance that makes any of us acceptable to God is based on Christ’s performance on the cross. ‘God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT). The righteousness that saves us is imputed – not earned. So don’t be self-righteous!