Being Smug and Self-Righteous Comes Naturally

Being Smug and Self-Righteous Comes Naturally

It’s easy to be smug. Being self-righteous seems to be so easy and natural.

God is clear about the type of attitude He seeks; humility.

We live 24/7 in our own skin and who walks around thinking they aren’t right about most things? It takes incredible effort to even acknowledge we MAY not be right, we MAY not have the best answers, or we MAY not deserve something. However, God is clear about the type of attitude He seeks; humility.

Let’s hear from God word on this issue. And for those of you new to the Bible, Pharisee’s were priests and religious teachers considered by the Jewish people to be most righteous. Tax collectors on the other hand were considered no better than common thieves because as they collected taxes from their own people, they often collected more than was due for their own personal gain.

Luke 18:9-14, About Pharisee’s and Tax Collectors

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (ESV)

God Wants Humble, Not Self-Righteous Followers

Summary of Luke 18:9-14: It’s better to be a humble sinner, than to think of yourself as better than anyone else. If you think highly of yourself and have a big ego, you will eventually be corrected and humbled by God. If you realize your actual situation is that of a sinner, unworthy of God’s approval through your own efforts, you will be exalted by God. If you recognize your own sinful nature and do not pretend to be better in God’s eyes (or any man’s eyes), you show yourself to be the type of person that God truly approves of.

King David in the Old Testament was “a man after God’s own heart”, even though he was a murderer and adulterer. Why? Because he recognized his sinful ways. He confessed openly to God about his own depravity.

My Confession

I too have been tempted to glorify myself and think I’m better than other people

Now, here is my own confession. I need to hear this over and over again. I too have been tempted to glorify myself and think I’m better than other people. This of course is not true. I am like everyone else; no better. The Holy Spirit has convicted me that maintaining a haughty attitude is a destructive path.

I seek God’s glory, not my own. I seek God’s approval, not the approval of men. Luke 18:9-14 is exactly what I need to hear. I need correction anytime I start to think of myself as better than others. I expect the Holy Spirit to correct me every time.

My Prayer

God, be merciful to me, a sinner! As I do your work, please help me to do it in your power and for your glory…not my own. Lord, increase my humility and shield me from the evil one. Father God, protect me from evil and selfish desires, and the sinful desires of my own ego. I confess I don’t always think as you think on these issues. God, renew my mind and help me to daily be more like Jesus Christ in my attitudes and behaviors.

I will trust in you alone God and humble myself so you don’t have to. I will put away my self-righteous attitude. God, I will seek your glory and approval, and reject the approval of men. Amen!

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

Christians are Judgmental and Smug

Judgmental, smug, self-righteous

Photo by Mike Licht, NationsCapitol.com

Judgmental, smug, and self righteous are all negative Christian stereotypes we are known for.

If you’ve ever heard a Christian self-righteously say “you are going to Hell!” then you know the source of this judgmental stereotype.

Condemned

By judgmental, non-Christians usually mean treating them as “condemned”. If you’ve ever heard a Christian self-righteously say “you are going to Hell!” then you know the source of this judgmental stereotype.

Are Other People “More Sinful”?

However, being smug or self righteous also means treating non-believers as “more” sinful than us, and acting morally superior. It’s also judgmental to criticize other people’s beliefs, choices, or conduct, when they don’t reflect OUR beliefs, choices, or conduct. We contribute to this smug or judgmental negative Christian stereotype when we make decisions ABOUT someone without really knowing or caring to know about them.

Here is real story that helps clarify the perspective on Christian judgment:

From “alistarz” on thinkatheist.com

My mom was raised constantly being told that she was a ‘bad person’.  I’ve seen the emotional scars it left.

“My grandmother always tried to make me feel bad that my mom didn’t take my brothers and I to church. She would tell me that my mom was a ‘bad person’. Fortunately I was only around my grandmother for a few weeks each summer and on Thanksgiving or Christmas. My mom however was raised constantly being told that she was a ‘bad person’ whenever she did something ‘ungodly.’ I’ve seen the emotional scars it left on my mother.”

The Bible Speaks

God speaks to us about judgment in the Bible on two fronts:

  1. Judgment of people outside the Christian church
  2. Judgment of people within the Christian church

God makes it clear that it is His sovereign domain to judge those outside our Christian church family. Translation: don’t judge others…period!

For Insiders – Counsel

For those inside our Christian church, we are to counsel, help, and attempt to correct and grow each other. Judgment is only condoned when one of us is FAR off track and unwilling to repent or correct our behavior after repeated pleas by fellow Christian believers. And even then, having a smug or self righteous attitude is never condoned as acceptable behavior.

Requirements for Judging Rightly

Consider this: To exercise correct judgment, you need the authority to pass down judgment, the power to enforce your judgment, and a comprehensive understanding of the rules, laws, or guidelines that determine right from wrong. You also need the discernment to identify the truth from all perspectives. You need the wisdom to exercise mercy and forgiveness over judgment at the appropriate time and all for the greatest good.

Can you give up judging others and trust that God will judge rightly?

  • Who alone can rightly judge? God!
  • Can you give up judging others and trust that God will judge rightly?

What We Must Do

None of us are free of sin. To shed the negative Christian stereotype of being “judgmental”, “smug”, or “self righteous”, we need to exercise restraint, discernment, and personal humility. We need to love each other as God commands, and leave the judging to God!

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White