Here’s a little introspective thought. I was reading through Genesis 42. It’s the account of Joseph’s encounter with his brothers in Egypt. They (brothers) have traveled from Canaan to buy grain and food. Joseph recognizes them, but they do not recognize him. He observes his brothers begging for food. Joseph accuses them of being spies from Canaan of which they emphatically deny. As they stand unaware they are before their very own flesh and blood, they make a statement concerning them in an attempt to refute the spy accusation. They reply, “We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.” I underlined a chosen word here. Their claim was to honesty. Yet, they stood before the brother they’d abused, abandoned, and sold into slavery. How honest where they really?
I think we ignorantly view ourselves this way sometimes. We think we’re honest and good people. Aren’t we good, kind, and benevolent people? Yet, if we were to really look at the image in the mirror, we might see something else. We must be careful and attempt not to fool self. We are anything but good people. Sure, we might have a nice streak when it’s convenient. To be totally honest and upfront, we are depraved and sinful people. In the depravity of man, it is impossible for man to be genuinely good or righteous on his own. Therefore, we need the One who stood on our behalf and paid for our sin. My righteousness comes through Christ, it had nothing to do with me. To think of myself as good is to discount the need for Christ. If I’m honest with the man in the mirror, I recognize the grave necessity for His grace, forgiveness, and cleansing. I know my righteousness doesn’t come from anything I do, but from Him and by what He’s done. Self-righteousness discounts God’s righteousness. Moments like these do not drive me further into despair or self-loathing. This reality check draws me intentionally closer to the One in whom my righteousness if found.
When I start to think I’m pretty good, I need to remember these brothers who stood before Joseph. Joseph knew these were not honest men as they’d claimed. They believed a lie or at least were trying to convince someone of the lie. As I reflect upon the work of Christ, I know I’m not a good man. Then again, my righteousness doesn’t come from me it comes through Christ. For that I am grateful!