"Didn't I cultivate a life that was excellent and praiseworthy in so small a creature? But no, it was not my doing. All these were gifts from my God -- none were from me -- in whatever came together in myself". - The Confessions of St. Augustine
I'm reading this book. Augustine had such amazing insight; mostly into his own fallen nature.
This week, I've been able to reflect on how screwed up I am. Not in a "Man, I'm such a sinner because..." kind of way. That's always there. Ironically though, that can become a doorway to self-righteousness. Usually, we only acknowledge smaller sins. The real sins in us (you know, the ones that make you say, "Did I just think that?") terrify us too much, so we quickly push those aside in our minds. We would rather just look at the moderately troublesome sins in our lives. The ones where we can say, "Yes, I am a sinner saved by grace (and don't I sound so righteous saying that)."
This week, I tried to apply the idea that "I am more sinful than I ever dared believe", and failed miserably. It's a long story, but my self-righteousness got the better of me.
"But no, it was not my doing." Any good in me comes from God. Any good that works its way out of me comes from God.
If I say, "God loves me because I am good", I am denying His sacrifice of love.
If I say, "God loves me because I am a pretty nice guy", I am denying His sacrifice of love.
I I say, "God loves me because I recognize how sinful I am", I am delusional, unless I really understand how horribly destitute and impoverished my heart is.
This week, I have learned that most of us (hell, ALL of us) have no real idea how much in need we are of God. I mean everyone; from Christians who talk about loving Jesus all the time, down to the beetle-eyed sunglass wearing, black "BEBE" shirt wearing, dyed blond-haired Cuban chick with implants we saw yesterday walking into La Carreta, whose narcisistic desire for looks from envious men and women far surpasses any other desire in her life (sorry... had to get that shot in about Miami culture).
Any good that comes from me is God's expression of love manifested in me. If any self-righteousness creeps up in me, then I am faced with the reality that my sin is as ever-present in me as it was in,say, Hitler. There is no difference between the Nazi homicidal maniac, and me; except for the knowledge and presence of God's love and grace in my life.