I remember a few years ago, when we still lived in our 1907 house in old Everett, we lived two doors up from a crusty 55-year-old merchant marine who loved to come up, talk to Gary, and make derisive comments to Katie, Tim and myself. One day he was spouting some pretty nasty stuff at our dinner table. It was okay for us to feed him, but he never seemed obligated as the results of eating at our house to be more polite than usual, whether in insults or language in general. I remember his appalling comment to which I responded at one point, and it's not suitable to type here. I responded something to the effect of his need for Christ. In retrospect, I can see that I was casting my pearls before swine, because it didn't bring about any improvement in his speech or attitude. He then called me self-righteous, which caused me some time of self-examination before I responded.
I had to think about the difference between self-righteousness and righteousness. While it's a clear and very discernable difference, when someone calls you that, it's good to ascertain however you can whether they have any grounds for it.
I'm pretty sure that at least for the most part he was wrong. I'm sure I have times that I take undue pride in something that is not of my own doing or that isn't as good as I think it is, or thinking that I'm at all good in my own right. Probably more than I'd like to think or admit! But I think he was saying so more because he didn't want to examine himself, and be found lacking.
I often bemoan my various inadequacies--I'm a poor housekeeper however hard I work at it; I'm not a great singer; I'm terrible at maintaining my figure (in the way I should, at least!); not in the least style-conscious; the energy that I put into cooking (while making a huge mess every time) never results in a proportionately beautiful or delicious meal, though thankfully it does keep body and soul together; and my interior design sense is completely lacking. Okay, maybe I'm adequate in man's terms at these things, in that we're still alive in this house for which I am caretaker; but I am excellent at absolutely nothing that I "should" be. And God says we are to be perfect as He is perfect. Well, I am not in any earthly sense perfect!
So I cannot, when taking a realistic view of myself, give myself kudos for anything. Cannot rightly think of myself as better than anyone else. Cannot attain in my strength to being good enough for God's standard. On the flip side, though, I think it's a good thing, in a way, that I don't generally have enough talent and beauty and skill and money, or maybe sheer stupidity, to fool myself into thinking that I'm quite so great on my own. (Sometimes, however, by means not fully understood, I can do so for a brief time!)
For example, when I refer above to my figure, I'm talking about how thin it isn't, which is at least mostly my own fault--but additionally, I'm short, and short-legged, and lack model-type qualities--which is entirely God's doing. For a while I used to bemoan this, but I realized that God in His wisdom gave me my lack of height and physical beauty, perhaps to mercifully keep me from falling for a lie that I was in some way good, adequate, beautiful, and righteous without Him.
So for all my inadequacies, I thank God.
Thank You, God, that You made me so insufficient on my own--and so fully adequate, in You alone. Amen!
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.