The other night Diane was sharing about a painful time in one of her friendships and my heart was so sad for her. But instead of simply being sad, I became angry. Angry that someone was hurting my wife, albeit unintentionally, and from my anger came justification and self-righteousness. I began to point out the things that were wrong with this person, things that were not based on truth but on my own suppositions and pain. And at the end of that conversation, I didn’t feel any better. I felt right – justified – in my anger, but I didn’t feel free. I felt burdened, heavy, out of sync.
Yesterday at church God led me to pray and repent of that. He reminded me that He had not called me to judge or speak envious words but rather words that blessed and built up others. And then this morning He brought to mind Matthew 11:28-30, especially, “Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
If there was anyone who had the right to be righteous, anyone who had the right to judge, it was Jesus. If there was anyone who could trumpet His own goodness and win the comparison game every time, it was Jesus. And yet the way of Christ is to be gentle and humble in heart. And I noted that this gentleness and humility was given as an antidote to weariness and being burdened.
It’s hard work justifying myself. It’s hard work being envious and self-righteous. And it’s counter to the Spirit of Christ that lives in me, and so when I insist in getting my own way and in handling my pain myself, the result is a weary burden.
Thankfully God deals gently with me when I walk in this sin of self-righteousness, and as I receive that gentle word, I am able to pass that on to others. I can be comfortable with sadness and do what Matthew 11:28 tells me – Come to Jesus. And He will be my rest.