“Jesus was separate from sinners. But He was a friend of sinners. We can be separate but still love.”

Do you follow Jesus? Do you try to live the way He lived? If the answer is yes, then self-righteousness has no place in your life.

Frank Viola puts it more strongly.

“The fact of the matter was…Jesus Christ, God incarnate, God in flesh… His blood boiled at religious self-righteous people.”

Jesus lived in pursuit of those we might reject if we think we are righteous. He called the tax collectors, the extortionists, the prostitutes, the adulterers. He welcomed children. He saw those who were disruptive and invited them to walk with Him. To those who were wounded, He offered companionship. To those who were rejected, He extended grace and mercy and love.

“Jesus was someone who you wanted to be around. Little children came up to Him and hung out with Him. He hung out with the sinful people. He came to them; He even said that. ‘I’m the friend of sinners; I came to them.’”

Those who looked down on the vulnerable and “sinful” were the ones Jesus admonished most often. We were them; we are them. We are just as in need of His mercy as those who don’t yet know Him. The final judgment rests with one Man alone, and we don’t carry that responsibility today.

“I’m not saying that we should let our standards go as to what is right and wrong. We don’t have to drop and compromise our beliefs. But this self-righteous, judgmental, critical spirit is something that has no points of contact with the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

It’s important to spend time with Jesus to cultivate this other-worldly spirit. Our humility and openness to others is not just for our sake but for the sake of others. If we can show love and truth to others in a way that invites them in, we’re truly imaging Jesus to the world. That is the calling of the Christian life.

“I think more and more of God’s people are coming to see that this accusatory, critical, judgmental, self-righteous spirit is in fact not of Christ, and it does more damage in giving a wrong portrait of the Lord than most everything else. And I think that’s why the Lord really was so strong against it.”


Frank Viola is the author of From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God.

Key Scriptures: Ephesians 3:11; Genesis 1-2; Revelation 20-21

Featured Songs: Touch the Sky by Hillsong; Majesty of the Most High by Matt Redman; Your Grace Finds Me by Matt Redman

 

God’s eternal plan

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