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Self-righteousness - the biggest problem of Christians as well

Ludvík Šojdr

There´s only one answer.The Pharisees didn´t need God.It was sufficient for them to observe “only” God´s laws, orders and commandments very meticulously….An odd answer, isn´t it.God wants it after all! Yeah, he does but in the second place! In the first place God wants me to allow him to control my heart…. Self-righteousness - the biggest problem of Christians as well
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, woudn´t 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.Lk 18,9-14.
( the picture)
A righteous man doesn´t need Jesus´ sacrifice …Christ´s died for him in vain.
And what about me?
Have I already surrendered Him the control over my life or has He also died for me in vain?
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with sinners and publicans, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick:I came not to call the righteous ( understand: those who try to justify with their own strength and don´t need me ), but sinners to repentance.Mk2,16-17
“There is none righteous , no, not one….Romans 3,10
The name “Pharisee” probably comes from the Hebrew word “perushim” which means “separation” and relates to the rigorous sticking to the Law which characterized their way of life and differentiated them from those who were less devoted to the Judaism.The Pharisees´ movement originated in the reaction Chasidim ( so-called pious ones ) to the debauched life of the reigning dynasty of Hasmoney and Greeks´ unbearable reign before them.Their loyal sticking to the Moises´ law and refusing the compromises with the foreign influences were the cause of great respect and seriousness among the Jews.You can´t generalize the reproach about the hypocrisy.When the Pharisee declares that he fasts twice a week and gives tithes of everything that he gets so he really does ( Lk 18,9-13)! It´s not possible to see the Pharisee loyalty to the Law as a blind acceptance of the letter of laws.They were trying to make the Law bearable and not impossible by their extensive system of the verbal comment of the Law and its detailed rules.The Pharisees as opposed to the Saducees were open for the new development in the Jewish thinking.
The major network of the verbal comment, which was growing round the Law in the Rabi schools of Israel, wasn´t the ruin of the Law but the confirmation that the Law is active and living.The Pharisees were a layman group.They weren´t too numerous.Joseph Flavious states that their number was over six thousand.As a matter of fact, they were the closest ones to Jesus as for their religious attitude.However, in the gospel they are mentioned as the main opponents of Jesus as far as the comprehension of the Law was concerned.( The source:Internet lit/420b. html )
We could only blush in comparison with the Pharisees because their life was much more honest and they observed the commandments much more fervidly.Which of us fasts regularly twice a week? Which of us prays several times a day and by giving the tither of everything
remembers constantly that all those good things that´s got and that´s attained in life comes from the Lord of the Host? Which of you?
In spite of that Jesus isn´t satisfied with it and he prefers dwelling among blatant sinners         ( hirelings of the nation – publicans, adulterers, thieves and another riffraff of the Jewish society at that time ) and fully condemns the Pharisees´ attitude …Why?
There´s only one answer.The Pharisees didn´t need God.It was sufficient for them to observe “only” God´s laws,orders and commandments very meticulously….An odd answer, isn´t it.God wants it after all! Yeah, he does but in the second place! In the first place God wants me to allow him to control my heart.God wantsmy life in the first place and then ( as an expression of my internal longing that He himself will cause in my heart ) my observing everything that he demands of me.It also includes observing the Law.
As I matter of fact, I can observe all the religious duties that are prescribed more than the others and I can go to mass twice a day, receive sacraments, pray rosary three times a day, fast twice a week, observe the first Fridays and Saturdays, go to confession once a month, go to the spiritual retreat twice a year, be a perfect husband, an honest worker and a diligent parishioner etc.but I can be lost as well as the Pharisees because I can do it as well as them without God in my heart.Without His sovereign rule over my life.Independently of God.Nonetheless,it´s very strange at first sight but it´s possible.And the tragedy of the Christianity is that it´s not only possible but we suspect that it´s even very common….It´s sufficient to look around you and think how many of devout Christians there may be who´ve never surrendered the full power over their lives to God.And what´s even worse they might do it but they even don´t know that they shall do it or how they shall do it…
Well, we miss the essence somehow and it´s not only the problem of our Catholic Church.It´s necessary in the first place to receive the salvation as A GIFT and by doing this you are ready for the cooperation with this gift.And only in the second place you can start with the practical life, that is, to cooperate with this gift.
Why is it so? Because otherwise the Jesus´ sacrifice on the cross is completely useless.I can live my exceptionally honest religious life totally independently of His crucifixion, death and resurrection.And this is why Jesus was so annoyed when he´d perceived that his mission on earth was useless for the Pharisees ( and for all those that were similar to them ) in their self-righteousness.
Jesus´ death is completely pointless for those Christians who aren´t willing to declare Him clearly and definitely as the Lord of their lives.When Jesus in Luke´s gospel ( 9,24 ) says:”
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:but whosoever will lose his life for my sake , the same shall save it.”                  
He doesn´t mean the bloody martyrdom that finishes with death but this bloodless surrender of your own life to His power during this earthly life.
The salvation is a gift that you can´t deserve
I´m called to receive the salvation as A GIFT FOR FREE.Only this way and attitude enables me to be open to the God´s love and God´s mercy.If I don´t do this, I´ll never comprehend and experience the fantastic dimension of God´s love in my heart.And at the same time I´ll never discover the source of joy from the life in Christ as well as the source of freedom that gives me the thirst for living God´s commandment.Both of these necessary sources are water and consequently the baptism of the Holy Spirit for whom I´ll finally make it possible to control my heart.Without this “permission” the Holy Spirit doesn´t have the right to “occupy” me.I can ask Him countless times to come and even all the legion of bishops can lay hands over me so that Holy Spirit might come but nothing happens.It goes without saying that He, Holy Spirit is going to be there but he´ll always find only the close door.Only I can unlock this door:”Jesus, I want you to become the Lord of my life”.A clear decision and a clear demand.And the way is free…
On the contrary, if I´m trying to DESERVE my salvation, in spite of my good pious life and good deeds, that is, to PAY for something that had been PRESENTED me as a GIFT so I don´t do anything else than telling God:”I´m good enough to deserve my own SALVATION and TO “EARN” it by my good deeds and Christian life.And in addition, I´m telling indirectly that I don´t actually need God to be saved whereas God tells me through John´s mouth in the book of Revelation:”
Because thou sayest, I´m rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:I councel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich:and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear: and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.Rev 3, 17-18
Let´s get this straight.Jesus doesn´t tell us that it´s not necessary to live honestly and to do good work all your life.Conversely,. he only tells us that we shall not do it from our own strength and on our own but we shall do it in His strength that He is ready to give us when we allow Him…
In other words, we shall be dependent on God.Only dependence on Him liberates us from the dependence on anything else or on ourselves.And the dependence on ourselves, which Jesus castigated, may be the biggest obstacle for so-called believers to become the real God´s children.Whoever opens to God, starts growing rich by God and gradually abandons all the desires for other riches.Our incessant lack of this or that thing is only the result of my reservedness towards God.


Persons, who haven´t received Jesus as their Lord, will be hard put to understand these lines.I´ve got some experience that they will search and will find whatsoever ”teological problem”only in order that they needn´t change their own life.Those who surrendered their life to Jesus know what I´m talking about and they should pray ( and not only that ) how to hand over this essential quality in their parish or surroundings.The reality is that we are and we´ll be inundated with other activities that are different from the essence that I´m talking about.It is and it will be much more pleasant to keep deepening some missing religious knowledge than to decide fundamentally for Jesus.Let´s not wait for the change from “above” but let´s start praying patiently “from below” for this conversion.Let´s get together regularly in groups ( two or three of those who´ve already surrendered their lives to Jesus ) and let´s pray for Jesus´ rule in us and in our surroundings.Let´s not wait.This time is opportune.Very opportune.


 Ludvík Šojdr, November 2007



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