Self-righteousness – A “right-ness” that comes from self – our own definitions, ideas and resources.
When Mason was born he was given a white, hand-crocheted baby blanket. It was so delicate, so soft, and I knew it was a labor of love.
However, Mason didn’t care much for the blanket. I mean, it was just another blanket to him. Because I thought it was a bit “feminine”, I decided to pack it away and hold on to it in case we ever had a girl.
14 months later, along came that girl. I remembered the blanket and pulled it out for Caroline to use. She loved that blanket – even as a baby. As a toddler, she carried it around with her. It went on car trips with us, to church, to the mall. We went no where without “blankie”.
After several years of “lovin’”, you can imagine how unkempt the blanket came to be. So much so that I decided that if the blanket were going to be preserved in any way, I was going to have to put it away and tempt Caroline with another blanket in its place. It took some coaxing, but I managed to replace old, white blanket with a new, fuzzy, pink one bearing a rabbit. Mission accomplished. I put white blanket into the “safekeeping” box for, well…safekeeping.
Sadly, not a year later, pink blanket was inexplicably and forever lost somewhere. This fact was not brought to my attention until bedtime. Caroline was not to be consoled! After many tears (some of them mine), I retrieved white blanket from safekeeping and presented it to Caroline with a change in my own heart: So what if she loves it to “death”? It’s her blanket.
Caroline is now 8 years old. We know where white blanket is at all times. She doesn’t sleep with it every SINGLE night, but she loves it. Truth be told, white blanket is no longer white, actually. I’d say more of a light gray. In fact, the term “blanket” is also a misnomer. I’d say “clump of string” is more apt. Washing this blanket is out of the question. It would completely disintegrate.
Looking at Caroline with her blanket sort of got me thinking…white blanket is an awful lot like self-righteousness.
Think about it…Caroline has a blanket that she loves. She doesn’t see its flaws. She doesn’t see the gaping holes, the dingy color. She has no idea how ugly the blanket really is. But I do! I look at that thing and see drool stains and holes. I see brown smudges from who knows where. Come to think of it, the thing doesn’t smell very fresh either.
It’s that way with our own self-righteousness. Sometimes we can become “smug” in our views, look down on people because of something they do, or don’t do, set ourselves up as judge of all that’s right or wrong, or consider ourselves always right. The thing is – we may never even overtly know this, but other people do. Our self-righteousness is so crystal clear to others. Others see the holes, the ugliness, the smelliness that we so blindly feel good about.
Since our hearts are “deceitful above all things” self-righteousness is something to which we are all prone. Christians and non-Christians alike.
Here is where the blanket/self-righteousness analogy breaks down a little bit. I love that Caroline loves her blanket. I don’t want her to give it up. Heck – I don’t even really want it to be cleaner necessarily. But as Caroline ages and develops more into a young woman with ideas about how the world and the people in it operate, I pray that she would have a heart of compassion, godly discernment, and an ability to love other people “where they are” rather than judging from a heart that’s self-righteous. That is, after all, the kind of heart Jesus had.
After all, self righteousness is much, much more ugly than the tattered old blanket of her childhood.