In one of yesterday’s messages I mentioned a friend of mine who refuses to tithe due to an experience of “being hurt” years ago in a church setting. My friend’s experience has been one exceptionally difficult experience after the other. In fact tragedy has occurred in their lives. My comment went something like this, “I wonder if being outside the covenant guardrails of harkening and observing opened my friend to these types of experiences?”
Someone listening to my message felt that I was being “self-righteous” by making that comment. Since MCA Church is in a season of fasting and prayer with special emphasis on repentance, I decided to give consideration to the anonymous note (I never read anonymous items, but this one was included with some other notes). The posture of my heart is for purity before God and people.
I am considering the question, “Is the self involved in righteousness?” It seems to me that there are at least two aspects of righteousness; there is the righteousness of God, apart from law, that has been made known, and secondly there are the “acts of righteousness” that Jesus taught in Matthew 6. For the righteousness from God to be accounted to me, faith must be activated by the self. Virtually all Christians understand the Bible to teach that “whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” God’s righteousness is only applied to my account through believing by faith.
Yet all of the believing by faith that God allows me to apply will not accomplish private alms, private prayer, and private fasting. The “Acts of Righteousness” taught by Jesus are not a matter of believing alone, but of doing. You either give private alms or you don’t. This component of righteousness clearly requires the action of the self.
By the way, do you know that tithing, in Bible days, was PUBLIC? Scholars will attest to this in addition to the Biblical record. For example, Jesus was watching the public tithe when he taught about the widow’s mite. The tithe was given publicly to the priests, recorded in a book, and given unto God.
There is a major difference between obedience and righteousness. Obedience is designed to be visible and viewed by the public. Righteousness is intended to be private and invisible. Everyone can tell if you love your neighbor as yourself. It is a very visible matter of obedience. Many can tell if you love your wife as Christ loved the church because it is a visible matter of obedience.
No one should know when you are giving private alms, in a season of private fasting, or in private prayer. The “Acts of Righteousness” are hidden between one of your hands and God (Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing).
Self-righteousness is a view of thinking that you are somehow saved or otherwise special to God because of actions taken by the self. Public tithing wasn’t condemned by Jesus, but thinking that you are somehow saved or more loved by God because of tithing was considered a total disregard for the ministry of Jesus. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus not through human works, ingenuity, or capacity.
The self is greatly involved in both obedience and righteousness. However, obedience and the “acts of righteousness” do not save. But the saved obey and do “acts of righteousness.”
During our MCA Church Fast, let us check our hearts to evaluate if we have any self-righteousness lodged there. I pray that you can observe obedience to Christ in my life and I give you permission to check with me as a source of accountability.