Are You Righteous, or a Sinner?

I’ve read the four gospels a number of times, and each time through I feel like I see something new.   This most recent trip through the life of Jesus, a theme has struck me.  This theme is the righteous versus the sinner.  I’m not speaking of the times where the words are used to differentiate between someone who has a relationship with God and someone who does not, but the times where Jesus is making a distinction between two postures of the heart.

Luke 5:29-32 “29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

We love to poke fun at the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, teachers of the law, etc. because they as a group are the most hard-hearted of all the people in the New Testament.  Don’t forget about guys such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who clearly didn’t find Jesus to be a threat like most of their colleagues.  So I’m not here to look down on those groups from my metaphorical and futuristic high horse.  Rather what I would like to do is swap the groups of the righteous and sinners for two others.  The proud and the humble.

Pride and humility are opposing states of the heart.  The proud person tells themselves they have it all figured out, they are better than other people, they don’t need help from anyone, and they have no need to change.  A humble person tells themselves that God has it all figured out, they are no better or worse than other people, they need help, and they need to change things about themselves.  Pride blinds us, while humility allows self-awareness and reflection.

The Pharisees were so blinded by their pride, their righteousness, that they missed the opportunity to physically follow Jesus while He was on Earth.  They weren’t able to repent and submit to Jesus because they were too focused on themselves and things of this world.  Jesus saw right through them.  He knew outwardly they did all the “religious stuff”, but their hearts were cold and lifeless.

So what?  Maybe you’re thinking, yeah, I already know all this Jon.  I know I’m supposed to be humble and not proud.  Ok, that’s great.  But do you live it?  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.  I’m not perfect, but God knows I’m trying to be just a little bit more humble today than I was yesterday.  I’m trying to live as though other people are more important than me.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that might reveal how you’re doing with pride and humility:

  • Do you find it easy to say “I’m sorry”? – The proud are blind to their faults, and only see the faults of others.  A person who can’t say “I’m sorry” is probalby fighting a lot of pride.
  • Do you listen to other people when they speak? – Not just hearing the words coming out of their mouth, but genuinely caring about what they are saying.
  • Do other people inconvenience you? – Other people’s plans getting in the way of yours.  Too many people in line at the grocery store.  Other people’s habits that make your life more difficult.  Whatever other scenario you can think up.

You need to evaluate yourself because pride will destroy your life.  It will lead to selfishness that will taint your words and actions.  You will be someone who people don’t respect and won’t want to be around.  Remember, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Be a Misfit and take on the attitude of the sinner who knows he needs God.



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