Have I been self-righteous, or do I recognize that like every other man of dust, there is nothing good in me apart from the Spirit of Christ?
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13"But the tax collector 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.'14"I tell you that this man, 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."
INSIGHT: One time I was walking in the woods asking the Lord to help me with a struggle I was having. “Lord, I know that your Word says I’m supposed to see others as better than me (Philippians 2:3), but how do I honestly do that when so few people seem to love and obey you like I do? How can I possibly see myself as not as good as a lukewarm or disobedient believer?” A few minutes later God brought to mind (2 Corinthians 4:7) and helped me to see that every chosen child of His is a jar made of the same exact clay, none better than the other. Initially, He showed me that before He is in us, our jars are filled with the smut of our sin nature, the lies of the devil, and the spirit of the world. It is a level playing field and none of us can do anything to change our deplorable condition. However, when a person recognizes the need for their jar to be cleaned, they can pour the filthy contents out (repentance) and through faith, Christ will begin cleansing our jar with the water of His word and Spirit. God helped me to see we are all equal in this respect, and we have the same invitation to dump the filth from our jar, but no one can clean or fill it back up, apart from Him.
When a man humbly chooses to be cleansed and purified, he has not done anything that any other Christian can’t decide to do. Even when his jar becomes fully cleansed and cleaner than other jars, he still can’t take credit for any of it. God helped me to see that I am a worthless dirty jar, and there is truly nothing good in me apart from Him. If I try to earn or take credit (like a Pharisee) for any of the good in my heart or life, I am either guilty of robbing God of His Glory, or trying to achieve righteousness apart from the Spirit of Christ. The final insight God gave me was to show me that even if we choose to have our jar filled up more than others do, that does not make us better, but it does make us better off. Dump out your jar completely, be filled by Christ and you will be better off!