Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless.
Philippians 3:4-6, emphasis added
Paul had credentials. Big time. And he had been known to use them, to flaunt them, to abuse them. Sometimes when I hear myself, I sound a lot like Paul did before that encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus … certain that my actions, my heritage, my work give me reason to judge who is righteous and who is condemned. I say things like, “We make time for what’s important to us” when someone mentions they are struggling to find time for daily Bible study. Or I think things like, “No wonder her children behave like that” when another mother is honest about her struggles. I’ve posted Facebook statuses and tweeted things designed to proclaim myself. I’ve measured others and found them lacking according to my standards. I imagine, if you were really honest, you might admit you have as well. But the truth is … under the law, not one of us is blameless, not one is righteous. And most assuredly, not one of us is worthy of the gift of salvation, the offer of grace.
I’m such a Pharisee, Lord. I look around and see those little spots in the eyes of others as I wound them with the plank protruding from my own heart. I want to rest in my credentials, in what I’ve done … but the truth is, I haven’t done anything. I’m living proof that “there is none righteous.” My failings are not always obvious to others but Lord, forgive me for living as if they are not evident to You. Forgive me, Jesus, for abusing the grace You died to give me … for wielding the sword of the law and using what You came to fulfill as a weapon to hurt the hearts of those You love. I am unworthy of all You do, of all You give, of Who You are. So I come today, humbly and honestly admitting my self-righteous words, my judgmental heart, and my selfish life because I believe that You long to work in me to change those things. And as You do, as You bring grace and truth to the forefront of my heart and life, cause others to know the work of redemption and renewal is always through You and You alone. In Your name I pray, Amen.