God is unfair! Where was God when I lost that job, yet I never had missed on tithing? Where was He when I missed out on that long overdue promotion and my new colleague got yet I never was late for even midweek prayers services? How comes He allowed my spouse to cheat on me? How comes He has allowed me to be childless?
Are these statements familiar? You are not alone! Just a quick look at Job, a man described as blameless and shunned evil. In Chapter 29, Jobs final defense, it seems that he had had enough. He longs for the days his righteousness brought blessings in his house and respect from those around him. He details about his good acts to neighbors and his society. His connection with God had made him a wise man; his counsel was widely sought. He felt God was unjust towards him. God had forgotten all his good deeds.
Isn’t self righteousness a common pitfall for many of us? According to the Cambridge dictionary, Self righteousness is when one believes their actions are morally better than those of other people. It comes when we feel we have fulfilled all our religious requirements; have accomplished our part of bargain and now therefore expect God to do his part of rewarding us . We will parade our good works, how we tithe faithfully, how we give alms, how we have paid school fees for many, how we fast often, how we wake up in the middle of the night to pray etc. We make others believe that probably that our acts have played a role in the blessings we receive from God. Self righteousness is very dangerous because it makes us envious of those we consider evil or ungodly. We get angry when they their children do not get sick, when they get those promotions, when they build that big house…because they don’t deserve it; they have not earned it! We get depressed when bad things happen to us because we did deserve better! i mean we are holier than those others!
But what happens when God comes into the scene in Job chapter 38. He details uncountable things that Job cannot fathom, did not even know. He shows him how his wisdom, justice and righteousness are unattainable by men. In the end, Job cannot help but repent in (42:5-6). Remember Asaph, in Psalm 73? In vs 13 he laments “surely it is in vain I have kept my heart pure….” Keep in mind he was a respected religious leader yet struggled to understand Gods justice and almost backslid! But when he entered Gods sanctuary, his perspective of life changed. Jeremiah too wasn’t spared by self righteousness. In Jeremiah 12 he makes a complaint to God about justice. Gods answer seems similar to that he gave to Job
Clearly we often humanly struggle with self righteousness, understanding Gods justice. Many are unable to fathom this and have consequently suffered depression, hated serving God, lost the faith. But the moment we allow God to come in to the picture, the moment we focus on Him and his sovereignty, things won’t be the same again. The day we will comprehend that our righteous acts are like filthy rags, we will run to him to cloth us with His righteousness. We will stop being bitter when our neighbors are blessed because we will understand what grace and mercy are all about.
Just like Job, Asaph, Jeremiah will you allow God to come in to the picture?