The Lie of Self-Righteousness
If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
Why have you made me your mark?
Why have I become a burden to you? — Job 7:20
So now we get to hear Job's first response to his three friends. Keep in mind the dialogue between Job and his friends will go back and forth a while, and I will only highlight a few comments from each of these men. This verse is fascinating because we get to hear Job respond to what he's thinking about Eliphaz's first remarks. Recognize Eliphaz suggested that Job needs to repent of his sin.
In the greater context of Job's response, we see that Job is just commenting about his experiences and the challenges. But here, it appears he momentarily turns to pose a question to God. We might imagine he looks up to the heavens and asks, "God, what did I do to you to deserve this?" And in this statement, we catch a subtle glimpse of self-justification. It's as if Job is looking for proof of his sin. But what's ironic is that in asking the question, he takes a step toward self-righteousness.
Self-righteousness is this. It's the idea that we are morally right and righteous of our own doing. And thus, when we come to this conclusion — that we are a right man in right standing, we believe we deserve certain rights. But this is a lie. It's a corrupt manner of thinking. There is no one who is right or righteous by his own doing. And the problem here is that Eliphaz has seeded this thought with his corrupt theology suggesting righteous people don't suffer, which supports a theology of self-righteousness. And now it appears Job justifies himself in response to this idea which results in the same corrupt end — a self-righteous question of God. And the reason why I want to note this is that self-righteousness is an insidious move toward self and away from God. Mature forms of self-righteousness lead to all kinds of hypocrisy and have a damaging effect on others hearing a gospel of grace.
C.S. Lewis once said this, "A cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute."
But self-righteousness is a challenge for everyone all the time. It can be challenging when times are good or times are bad. And the best thing for us to do when self-righteous thoughts occur is sacrifice them. Sacrifice them to our righteous God. For as soon as we think "I deserve this" or "I don't deserve that," we've probably taken a step toward self-righteousness, and we need to correct course in our thinking before we become, as Lewis said, "cold, self-righteous prigs."
So today, will you join me in sacrificing any self-righteous thoughts, motives, or actions by getting right with a righteous God?
ASK THIS: What self-righteous thoughts, motives, and actions do you need to sacrifice to God?
DO THIS: Go low before God by giving him your self-righteousness. (Share the pride that trips you up in the comments below).
PRAY THIS: God, forgive me for my self-righteousness.
PLAY THIS: Nothing but the Blood.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.