Devotional: Rubbish

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“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”—Philippians 3: 8-9, NIV I lost a good friend recently, who went home to heaven. Over many years I watched him pour out his heart and life to lead others into the love and grace of God. I also saw him battle his own problems. He believed grace for everyone else, but struggled to believe it for himself. He was a flawed human being —like us all. “Oh, God,” someone once actually prayed, “I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man.  I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.” Maybe you’ve never actually heard or spoken those exact words, but if you’ve been in religious circles long you have felt that sentiment. These words were actually spoken by the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, the Pharisees (Luke 18:11-12, The Message). The Pharisees were upright, righteous people. They observed the law, performed their service to God religiously—and loved to talk about it. They may sound exaggerated to you, but I know I’ve had my Pharisee moments.  Things are feeling good with God, I’m on a spiritual pinnacle – and somehow, it’s easy to fall into judging everyone else who doesn’t live by the same standards of holiness by which I think I live. Look at another character in the Scriptures by contrast: A tax collector, not considered the most righteous of professions in those days, “stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner'” (Luke 18:13). What did Jesus say about these two?
“I tell you that this man [the tax collector], rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

A judgmental spirit is a sure sign of SELF-righteousness, not godly righteousness.

Paul counted all the self-righteousness he had earned as “rubbish” – or as another translation puts it more graphically, “dung.” He urges us to be honest. To admit that we have problems with sin, with our flesh, with our attitudes, and the only righteousness or good that dwells within us comes from Jesus. And the only work that really counts begins with our faith in Him.

My friend knows this now. He is with the Lord, being loved and healed of all pain, doubt, and insecurity.   For those of us who may have judged him at times, we also see ourselves as the sinners we are. Dependent on the mercy and love of God to recognize the “dung” of our own righteousness, we cry, “have mercy on me, a sinner.”

The rest is rubbish!

 “People wrap themselves up in the flimsy garments of their own righteousness and then complain of the cold.” (unknown)