October 27


Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
Lk 18:9-14

A problem arises when we are confident in our own righteousness. We can become smug to the point of despising others. By dividing people into the righteous and the ignorant or even immoral, we can become victims of a disdainful piety. Locked in our own conviction that our way is totally correct, we are unable to see that our certainty may be totally unfounded. Unfortunately, this attitude is painfully clear in our political and religious milieu today. Its inability to see another possibility fractures the human community and the well-being of all. Jesus despised such an attitude.  He praised the man who saw his own flaws and recognized his need for reconciliation. This man, he pointed out, was justified before God.


O God, be merciful to me a sinner!


What makes us confident in our own righteousness? Have you ever been this way yourself? What causes it? Where can you identify it in our present society?

Suggested Reading

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14

Self-righteousness is much like a spiritual egocentricity. It constitutes a secular type of love that thrives under conditionality, one which is only existent after an individual meets the adopted standards of the condemner; oppositely, unconditional love is a holy love.
Criss Jami

When you think yours is the only true path you forever chain yourself to judging others and narrow the vision of God. The road to righteousness and arrogance is a parallel road that can intersect each other several times throughout a person’s life. It’s often hard to recognize one road from another. What makes them different is the road to righteousness is paved with the love of humanity. The road to arrogance is paved with the love of self.
Shannon L. Alder

Self-righteous people can talk themselves into forgetting they are part of a civilization. They can then feed on that culture, bringing it down. It’s happened many times in the past. It could happen to us.
David Brin

The hardest people to reach with the love of God are not the bad people. They know they are bad. They have no defense. The hardest ones to win for God are the self-righteous people.
Charles L. Allen

The self-righteous never apologize.
Leonard Ravenhill

The self-righteous rule out the possibility that they are what has gone wrong.
Mason Cooley

I think self-knowledge is the rarest trait in a human being.
Elizabeth Edwards

Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement.
Baltasar Gracian

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.
Thomas Merton

There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self.
Henri Frederic Amiel

Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self.
Charles Spurgeon