- I didn't make this title up; it’s from an online article dated May 19, 2012, referring to a study published the same month in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science.
- I have nothing against people who buy organic food.
- Given my eating habits, I should buy more organic food.
“There’s a line of research showing that when people can pat themselves on the back for their moral behavior, they can become self-righteous.”
The study showed that those who congratulated themselves for making good moral food decisions also tended to be judgmental and critical toward those who didn’t. Interesting.
There’s a danger as Christians to fall into this same trap.
Christianity is different from all other faiths in that it is a response to God’s undeserved goodness to us. Our obedience is not something we do in order to achieve a higher moral standing, but rather a response of gratitude to Jesus. My favorite definition of grace is “God’s unfair love.”
I see God’s unfair love towards me everywhere. If it were not for His lavish undeserved generosity toward me, my life would be an absolute mess -- I know what He has saved me from.
No one in heaven will be patting themselves on the back. Can you imagine the Prodigal Son in Jesus’ parable (Luke 15) patting himself on the back at the party his father threw for him? Rather, we will be saying, “But for the grace of God, we would not be here.”
What would your life be like without God’s grace toward you?
In what ways can this lead you to compassion toward others rather than self-righteousness?
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”