I think it is safe to say that most people are not proud of their weak moments. It is better to boast on what makes us weak, rather than on what makes us strong, because it is in our most vulnerable moments that God’s glory shines through us. In Luke 18:10-14 Jesus gives us examples of two men who went to the temple to pray, one man was thanking God for how strong he was and how righteous he was, yet the other man was sorrowful due to all that was wrong. Jesus then explained that the second man was the one who went home justified.
Jesus said that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 18:14). Why? Doesn’t God want us to obtain righteousness after all? Then why would God want us to not glory in seeking and obtaining righteousness we might ask? Does God contradict himself? I’m confused…. What I have found out through trial and error during my Christian walk (actually what God has graciously taught me) is that true righteousness comes from the heart.
Psalm 51:17 NLT “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God”. It is not our works that makes us righteous, but it is our faith that confirms to us that God sees us as right. According to Romans 8:30 Paul explains that it is God who first called us, and then justified us. Those he justifies he later glorifies when the time is right, but this is something he does. It is from the heart that righteousness comes from. It is from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks, and when we have a heart full of humility, knowing that nothing within ourselves is good except that which God refined in us, then when we speak it adds life to the listeners and confirms the truth.
What is the truth? The truth is that none of us are truly righteous. Yet when we confess our sins, God then purifies us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). It is the person who is first full of their own weakness and humility who once they are lifted up, understands that it is not of themselves. Therefore, when they approach someone who is full of sin and seems lost, they are able to season their words with salt from a heart full of humility rather than arrogant pride. When we become strong and righteous, when we finally overcome… do you know that we become least in the Kingdom of God.. that is the more proud we become, the more unrighteous we become? A heart full of judgement and pride cannot love as Jesus loved. Jesus was only able to love because he was lowly in spirit. Even though his actions were blameless at all times, once he was called “good” by someone, and he corrected that man saying, “why do you call me good? There is only one good and that is God” (Mark 10:18).
Please don’t get me wrong, it is God who inspires us to do good works. It is God who leads us on his paths of righteousness. It is God who calls a pure, spotless bride. The catch is, it is also God who justifies and purifies. It is the heart attitude of a person that makes a man/woman right. It is humility, faithfulness, loyalty, genuine love and consideration, esteeming others above themselves that is right. What we eat, what we wear, and the works of our hands never makes us right, this is why I rarely judge a person by their outward appearances. A person covered in tattoos smoking a cigar and drinking a beer can be more righteous than the man standing across from them wearing a suit with a tie, who would never touch a cigarette. Does that make the first person right? We all know that some things that we do to our bodies or put in our bodies are not good for us, and it is common to see a born again man of God start to put away such things as they are purified. Yet, it is not the putting away of those things that makes that man righteous, it is their contrite heart before God.
When I am weak, then I am strong. Oh, I love this verse yet I still abhor being weak sometimes. I would rather be strong, never giving into temptation, never having a bad moment.. but it is the desire to do right that begins to purify us (1 John 3:3), because … righteousness comes from the heart. It is the hunger to be right and the knowledge to know I am not. It is the cry of a contrite heart that pleases God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 the Apostle Paul says, “I will brag all the more in my weakness, so that Christ’s power will rest on me”.