Self-Glory and Selfish Talk
“God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get” (Luke 18:11-12).
It was a stunning moment of self-glory, but where and how it took place made it even more brazen. I’m sure you’re familiar with the parable. A Pharisee went to the temple to pray, and filled with pride at the self-glory of his self-righteousness, he proceeded to tell God that he didn’t need him.
It’s tempting to look at this Pharisee and condemn him for his self-righteousness. “How could he be so pathetic? I would never do a thing like that! I thank God that I am not like that Pharisee. Here are all the ways I can prove with my righteous behavior that I’m not like this Pharisee…”
And just like that, we have become the Pharisee.
Jesus tells this parable to “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18:9). I don’t know about you, but that description stings and convicts me.
As Christians, we proclaim that we are passionate about glory—the glory of God—but it’s not always the case. Yes, we have surrendered our lives to the submission of the Lord. Yes, we will worship his glory perfectly in eternity.
But we still will struggle with self-glory in the here and now.
We’re still in the middle of a five-part series, so let’s apply this principle of self-glory to our interactions, reactions, and relationships.
I don’t know if you saw it as you read the parable, but in his description of those who were listening, Jesus stated the vertical and horizontal components of the two Great Commandments: “Some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.”
Self-glory, like that of the Pharisee, decimates the two Great Commandments. If you’re obsessed with your self-glory, you will not love the glory of God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And you won’t love your neighbor as yourself, you won’t care about the plight of others, and you won’t “show mercy to the oppressed” (see Daniel 4:27 for another appeal against self-glory).
Self-glory never produces patient love, forgiving grace, humble respect, a willingness to listen, or a commitment to guard another’s reputation in your relationships. Self-glory never makes you kinder, gentler, or more tender. Self-glory turns truth into a weapon and uses words to harm.
Self-glory distorts and damages the communication culture that is both outside and within the body of Christ. But if every brother or sister in Christ communicated with the glory of God in view, the toxic reactivity that sadly lives in both domains would be no more.
How do we do this?
Before you begin your busy day, take a few moments to focus the eyes of your heart on the stunning glory of the Lord and the awesome glory of his grace. Each morning, allow your self-glory to melt in the redeeming heat of divine glory.
As you bask in the splendor of the glorious beauty of who he is, plead with your Lord to rescue you from you throughout the day.
Then get up and determine to keep his glory in view in every conversation, whether digital or personal. And look for opportunities to be gracious, merciful, righteous, and generous in your interactions, reactions, and relationships.
Jesus lived, died, and rose again so these characteristics would be our potential.
May each of us talk, text, tweet, email, share, like, comment, and hashtag with God’s glory in view.
His grace makes this possible.
Paul David Tripp
1. When was the last time you “thanked God” that you were not like someone else? In other words, how did you subtly or explicitly think of yourself as more righteous than another person?
2. How, in fact, are you more similar to the person you were condemning or judging? If you have matured, are you personally taking credit for this spiritual growth, or are you aware that it’s only because of the transforming power of grace in your life?
3. Consider your day-to-day life. How much of your success (and even sustenance) depends on others? How can this awareness and humility decrease your trust in yourself and cause you to seek support and community from others?
4. How have you treated others with contempt in your communication recently? To whom do you need to apologize, and why?
5. How will you meditate on the glory of God tomorrow morning before you start your day? What do you need to ask the Lord for eyes to see? Where do you need to cry out for help and rescuing grace?