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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Not a Safe Place to Be

James 2:14, 26 (NKJV)

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

While it is clear that self-righteousness can arise from pride in what one has accomplished, it is nevertheless true that self-righteousness can also arise from grace.  As a child can be self-righteous about the wealthy home he was born into without any credit of achievement on his own, so also can believers be self-righteous about being members of the family of God.  Would that there were some intellectual or spiritual contrivance to insure against the sin of self-centered pride, but there is none.  Essentially righteousness is a matter of honesty.  It is based on a frank admission that each individual has fatal flaws and imperfections.  Jesus asked “Why do you call me good?...No one is good--except God alone” (Mark 10:18 NIV).  The thirst for perfection turns ugly the moment we assume we have attained it, which is on the whole a very disingenuous if not stupid thing to do.  A world populated by self-appointed gods is not a safe place to be.  We have to conclude that it is only by the grace of God and under the exigencies of the spirit that we can be ruthlessly yet charitably honest with ourselves; else our most coveted merit becomes our greatest flaw.

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