Be Holy, Not "Holier Than Thou"

By Scarlett Stough

Jesus reserved his most scathing rebukes for the religious leaders of his day. The people who get God's approval are those who humble themselves to acknowledge their own weaknesses and need for God.

This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Isaiah 66:2b

Jesus gave this parable "to some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else" (Luke 18:9):

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers---or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Luke 18:10-14

Our confidence should be in God's power to transform us, rather than in our own efforts to be righteous. God transforms us so we can live holy lives, not so we can look with contempt upon those who, so far, have not yielded to God's call to repentance.

We are cautioned: "So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man" (1 Corinthians 10:12-13b).

This thought is completed by the promise: "And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Paul taught the church we should be examining ourselves rather than pointing our fingers in condemnation of others:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13

Our lives, personal and public, should reflect our dedication to honoring God in our conduct and our attitudes. When we fail, we repent and get up and start back on that "straight and narrow" path. If we are slandered, we are not to respond in kind, but with kindness.

We are to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). Love is not rude. Read 1 Corinthians 13 for God's description of love. But love is truthful. We don’t tell people their sin is not sin. We don't call "good" what God calls "evil." But neither should we hold in contempt those who have not yet known the mercy of God. We are not "holier than thou" in any sense---only God is holy, and only God can impart holiness.

Volume 14 Issue 03 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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