Self-righteousness

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“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon 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 every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

Self-righteousness is the subject of the parable before us. I cannot imagine a subject more disgustingly repugnant, or more commonly and universally indulged. Luke gives us an inspired introduction to the parable in verse 9. —“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” That which our Lord here denounces is self-righteousness. The purpose of our Lord in this parable is to show the folly and danger of self-righteousness. Continue reading