Why are religious people sometimes perceived as selfish, self-righteous hypocrites?
It’s all in Matthew 23. Every person needs to read, learn, know, and keep this chapter close to their heart. I often try to remind my students that whenever we observe things in others that we “hate,” (i.e. selfishness, self-righteousness, pettiness, etc.) we should instantly reflect inwardly to see if the thing we despise in them exists in us … because it almost certainly does, and we can do something about ourselves.
” WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT OURSELVES”
Probably my single greatest ‘fear’ as a follower of Christ, is to be what Jesus is condemning in this chapter … a whitewashed tomb (beautiful on the outside, but on the inside full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean), a person who puts heavy, cumbersome loads on other people’s shoulders while not willing to lift a finger to move them, a person who shuts the door of the kingdom of heaven in other people’s faces.
One of the most important moments of the Christian walk is the very first step … the moment you realize your need. But that moment never ceases to be true or real throughout the rest of your life. Even after walking with Christ, becoming more like Him, for a lifetime we still must be able to make the same honest assessment of ourselves that the Apostle Paul did in Romans 7:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me…?”
Paul goes on to explain in 1 Timothy why he was chosen to be an Apostle:
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life.”
I know what we are.
The Bible says “the Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one
who does good, not even one.“
AND I know what I am … it isn’t something good; but I know someone who is Good, and He teaches me everyday to be something more than I could ever hope to be on my own.
“Remember what you are;” a lesson God went to great lengths to teach Job … “a righteous man.” A lesson he taught harshly to the Apostle Paul by striking him blind on the road to Damascus. A lesson in humility that every person would be wise to heed and remember. We’ve all messed up; hurting ourselves and others in the process. We need forgiveness. We need the payment Christ made on our behalf. It is being offered to us … to you … freely. Reach out and take it … with thanksgiving in your heart.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” – The Apostle Paul (Romans 8:1-2)