Friday, July 30, 2010

Self Justification

Until recently, the following was one of the scariest passages in the Bible to me:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" - Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
But just the other day I was again reflecting on these verses and I noticed something missing and God showed me another passage that I never really related to this one:
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." - Luke 18:10-14 NKJV
Sounds familiar doesn't it?  Those who were surprised as Jesus' judgment shouldn't have been but they were blinded by their own pride and self righteousness.  Their argument with Jesus was about all they claim to have done for Jesus and made no mention of the sacrifice Jesus made for them.  In other words, in their minds, they were justified by their own works.  We need to be careful to not fall into the same trap of getting so caught up in trying to do great things for God that we lose our relationship with God in the process.  We begin to focus on what we do instead of Whom we do it for and we begin to take credit for the work done instead of giving Glory to the God who enabled us to do them. Our works need to be an expression of our love for God and not a way of trying to earn God's love for us.  We can't earn God's love as His love for us is by virtue of us being His creation and our relationship with him is only possible because of Jesus' sacrifice. 

We all who love God want to do great things for Him and how to do that is to be faithful.  Faithful to the Gospel, faithful to His Word, and faithful to the Spirit's leading of our lives.  Faithfulness is the way to please God and if we are faithful in small things God will give us greater and greater things to do. 
"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'" - Matthew 25:21

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