This morning, I was thinking about how easily our hearts drift into efforts to justify ourselves in comparison with others. In some sad and deeply deceptive way, we feel better when we think we are better than others.
Although we confess to knowing God only through the grace we received in Christ, we continue to feel this ugly pull toward self-justification. We turn to a surveying spirit of comparison to feed our longing for approval and acceptance.
When we worship together, we sing of our acceptance with God as “not from ourselves but the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9), yet we fall for narratives of comparison with our fellow-worshippers to satisfy sinful desires to be better than others.
Perhaps we’re not as audacious as the man who prayed, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers…” (Luke 18:11). Yet, in more subtle ways, our hearts fight a desire to be confident of our own righteousness and look down on everyone else.
How this must grieve the heart of our God! He “made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21). What does it say to our Savior “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5)?
Over many years of walking with God and serving Him, I’ve noticed how faithfully God smashes this stubborn idol of self-justification. We are called to “serve each other in humility, for ‘God opposes the proud but favors the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor” (I Peter 5:5-6).
God is always leading us back to grace to confess our unworthiness and to celebrate His mercy. This is where true service of God and others begins.
God relentlessly leads us to find our confidence and comfort in the cross — not in some delusional and dangerous fantasy of being better than others.
How I grieve when my heart looks to other sources of comfort!
Lead me to the cross.