Self-righteousness is something that I wrestle with for as long as I’ve had a good definition of what self-righteousness is and how it plays out in my life and the lives of the people that I constantly judge. The best definition that I’ve heard, and understood clearly is “believing that you are farther a long spiritually than someone else”. So what does this mean more practically.
When I began to look in to reformed theology. I found people that where explaining the Gospel in a deeper way than I had ever experienced before. It began with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and complete reversed the way that I had understood God’s role in salvation. With my new found knowledge and shine vocabulary full of big words I began to engage my friends differently. I was able to answer questions, give good quotes, and even make up a couple good ones myself. I had so many answers to questions and people were coming to me for answers. I was on top of the world, in my own head.
Then one evening a real pastor came to the Bible Study I was attending. He was able to say better phrases and communicated in love better that I did. It would be a stretch to say my world was shaken at this point. But it did make me wonder if I was thinking of my self too highly. That I was becoming a pompous man, a pharisee.
So where the balance? We are to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” in Romans 12:2 and “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 1 Peter 3:15. But there is a stereo type that makes the knowledgable unaccessible. If you do talk to these people they will nothing but preach at you and brush you off. I think that this comes from a lack of implementing what their theology is teaching them. The Gospel is the center point of good theology. The people that are unapproachable seem to have forgotten where they came from. Good theology produces humility and love for God and neighbor. The more we learn, the deeper we go, the more humble we should be. Orthodoxy (right thinking) leads to orthopraxy (right living).
I will finish with a quote from the 95 Theses by Martin Luther. “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ he willed that the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”