What Does “Self-Righteousness” Mean?

I think there’s a lot of confusion when this term is thrown around by others and many don’t know what it means.  I think many equate self-righteousness with thinking you are better than others, morally or in other ways.

Webster’s definition of self-righteous is this:  convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others; narrow-mindedly moralistic.

Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary gives the theological definition:  belief, attitude, or behavior of persons who seek God’s acceptance by their own efforts, that is, by doing good works and keeping divine statues.

Bible passages where the concept of self-righteousness is discussed:  Luke 18:9, Romans 10:1-3, and Philippians 3:9.

Zondervan continues, “A self-righteous person is righteous neither in the religious nor moral sense.  Those who trust in themselves do not have right standing with God through self-effort nor are they morally upright since their attitudes are not affected.”

From my understanding, righteousness is a gift from God that we received from Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.  The “self” goes directly against righteousness since we humans have nothing to do with God’s grace.

If someone is being self-righteous, they are basically being self-reliant and in relation to others portray a smug and prideful attitude which is where superiority creeps in.  They waste precious energy, time, and resources trying to earn God’s grace and mercy when it was freely given.  And because they are striving so hard to earn God’s love they create a feeling inside of themselves that they are better than others because of their good works.  It becomes a numbers game and they end up judging themselves against others–again, something God should only be doing.

Self-righteousness is a sin because we are relying on ourselves and not accepting what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  And when coupled with others it is an act of judging others and only God can do that.

Self before righteousness is like putting you before God–self-reliant instead of God-reliant.

Examples of self-righteousness:  thinking you are better than others because–you believe in God, do more good things than others, are a better person in your view, etc.

Self-righteousness is another form of the wrong kind of pride and as Jesus says, “…he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

End Note:  Definitions and examples of Bible passage are from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney.  I would not have been able to explain this concept without this help!  Thank you!

I would love any other ideas or clarification points added!

Hachiko Waits

“This is a horrible, horrible book,” my 7 year old daughter cries.  I try to laugh at her antics amidst my own tears.

Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman is a fictionalized account of a true story that happened in Japan in the 1920’s.

Professor Ueno gets an Akita puppy named Hachi who goes with the professor to the train station every day and meets him again at 3 pm when the professor arrives home.  This goes on for about one year until one day the Professor never arrives on the 3 o’clock train.  Hachi waits and waits and waits.  He waits for 10 years until his death, always scanning the trains that come in for the Professor.

If you are any kind of animal lover, especially dogs, you are guaranteed to cry at this story.  The loyalty and devotion of a dog is never at its finest than right here.

I cried because I felt so sorry for the dog.  Hachi will never know his owner is not coming back.  Hachi cannot go on with his life because his life was the professor’s life.  When the professor’s life ended, so did his.

I have 2 old dogs whom I know will die sooner rather than later.  I am not looking forward to this and neither are my children.  I think it will be an important learning experience when it happens but it won’t make it any easier–losing a member of your family.

Here, Hachi didn’t know he had lost his family.  This is the ultimate tragedy I think.  We humans can move on because we understand.  Dogs don’t.

I often wonder if Hachi would have been okay if the professor had died at home or if he could have seen the professor’s body.  If Hachi would have understood and been able to move on and somehow intuit the meaning of death.

Death happens all the time in Nature and animals do go on.  I wonder how animals process death.  You see mother elephants who refuse to leave their dead baby’s body.  You see monkeys who carry their dead babies around in denial of the truth.

When my husband shot a buffalo (this was a paid hunt on a private ranch where the buffalo were going to either be sold to hunters or sold to the slaughter-houses because the ranch owner had lost his lease), he described how all the other buffalos tried to nudge him to get up.

It seems animals mourn like we do.  But Hachi could not mourn.  He didn’t know.  He sat faithfully every day expecting his master to step off the train like he had done countless times in the past.

Hachi is revered by the people of Japan for his loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness.  All the school children are taught his story and there is a statue that stands in the spot Hachi waited in the Shibuya Station.  It has become a popular spot for marriage proposals as couples confess their undying devotion to one another–just like Hachi’s.

Every year a memorial service is held to honor this special dog.

I think this paragraph from the book says it all:

“I have come to believe there is a special train to bring those who have obtained Enlightenment up to Heaven.  Every day for the past ten years, Professor Ueno has met this special train to see if his beloved Akita-ken is on it.  Day after day after day he has waited up in Heaven, just as Hachiko has waited here on earth.  And today, when the special train reaches Heaven and opens its doors, Hachiko will be the first one to step out.  Just think how happy he will be to see his master again.” P.73

I believe with all my heart dogs do go to Heaven.  I believe I will be with my dogs again when they pass and they will be with me.  I believe they will be waiting for me and will greet me just as vigorously as they do here on earth.

Dogs are the epitome of unconditional love.  No matter what happens they will love you because you are theirs and they are yours.  Dogs and other pets are a gift from God because He knows they can give us things we cannot get elsewhere.  Dogs give humans so many things and ask for so little in return.

Dogs, especially Hachi, are special indeed.

Below is a picture of Hachi as I envision him waiting:

Hachiko

A Road

“Grasshopper wanted to go on a journey.  ‘I will find a road,’ he said.  ‘I will follow that road wherever it goes.’  ….This road looks fine to me,’ said Grasshopper.  ‘I am on my way.'”

This is the opening prologue to Arnold Lobel’s Grasshopper on the Road.  Arnold Lobel is a classic in kids books.

The book does not mention God but I see God all over this.  God wants us to go a journey and find a road, follow it, and have a good attitude about it.  He wants us to go on a journey to find Him, follow His road, and have a joyful, righteous heart full of praise for Him.

I see parallels with The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  I read this book several years ago but from memory The Road in that book is the lifeline for survivors in a post-apolocalypic world.

God’s road is a lifeline for us to Him.

I am reminded of Isaiah 35:8-10  “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness…only the redeemed will walk there…gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

Too Many Pumpkins

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White is a kids book about a lady named Rebecca Estelle who hates pumpkins because when she was a child and poor that’s all she ate.  But one day, a truck drives by her home and a pumpkin falls out, smashing all over her lawn.  These pumpkin seeds sprout and Rebecca Estelle refuses to acknowledge them.

Until the fall when her yard is overflowing with pumpkins.  Now what will Rebecca Estelle do?

Rebecca Estelle ends up having a party with all the bakery items she made from those pumpkins and giving all of her items away. She plans on planting pumpkins agains next year.

My kids loved this story.  It’s a great story of how one lady who had an aversion to something due to her childhood experiences grew to eventually love that something.  Parallels can be drawn through this story to trying food you once didn’t like again or trying anything you thought you didn’t like for one reason or another at a different point in life because who knows?  You may like it again.

It reminds me of not discounting things due to previous held convictions, prejudices, or notions formed during my childhood or even adulthood.

Nothing About This is Easy….

Have I said this before?  It seems like I say this all the time.

I am editing….again….and it’s driving me up the wall.  I keep changing stuff, hopefully making it better, but it’s such a slow process.  I hate it.  And I don’t use hate lightly.

Nothing about this is easy.  Nothing about this is fun.  Nothing about this is uplifting, inspiring, or even tolerable.

I keep praying I get this thing published mainly for one reason: so I can hire someone to edit my future work henceforth.

It’s boring.  I know this stuff like the back of my hand.  It’s mind-numbing.  It’s outright awful.

This will be my last time.  I just can’t take it anymore!  I am just praying for the fortitude to finish this round and quickly.

I thought (for some stupid reason), This’ll be easy.  Just one more quick read-through before querying.  It’ll only take a couple of days. Wrong again.

I should have known better.  It’s not quick.  I guess I just tell myself this so I’ll do it.  Because once I start it gets done.

But only from God’s will, not mine.  I would have given up long ago.

The Magic Tree House Series

I have been completely remiss in talking about this series by Mary Pope Osborne–I guess because it’s just so popular I assume everyone knows about it.

My 7 year old was reading Eve of the Emperor Penguin out loud to me when I heard a part that I had to share with you all.

For those who don’t know, The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne follows the adventures of a brother-sister team called Jack and Annie as they travel through time around the world in their Magic Tree House.  They are sent on Missions by Morgan Le Fay and Merlin of King Arthur fame and frequently have adventures in Camelot.  They are officially classified as chapter books but the later ones are much longer.

In this book, Jack and Annie are searching for the fourth secret of happiness, which is summarized in the end.  The third secret that spoke to me was this, “Every day he (speaking about Leonardo da Vinci–a previous book) felt happy when he learned something new.”

This is me.  Definitely me.  I’m like a kid in a candy store when I learn something new and every time I read one of these books I learn something.  The time periods are all historically researched and sometimes with real people such as Leonardo da Vinci.  You learn facts in the midst of history.

I guess this is why I love to read historical fiction too.  I like stories with characters that take me back to a period I would have liked to have seen, lived in, and experienced.

I guess this is why Isaiah speaks to me so much: a real person in a historical time.  And combined with God it creates an insatiable appetite within me to know more.

The website is amazing as well.  You can create an account and go on more “Merlin Adventures”, where you are asked questions and facts from the books.  My daughter loves this.  I’m not a fan of computer games but this site I allow my children to use.  I always help them with it but it’s fun, easy, and emphasizes facts from the books.  Learning doesn’t get any better when these elements are combined.

My daughter can’t get enough of this series and as a parent I cannot recommend these highly enough.  We always get the newest one from the library and we also devour the non-fiction Research Guides that accompany the series.

I wish I had these when I was a little kid (amongst many other things!).  Good thing I still get to be one.  This probably explains why I spend hours each day reading kids books with my kids.

The Secret Place by Dennis Lee

There’s a place I go, inside myself,

Where nobody else can be,

And none of my friends can tell it’s there–

Nobody knows but me.

It’s hard to explain the way it feels,

Or even where I go.

It isn’t a place in time or space,

But once I’m there, I know.

It’s tiny, it’s shiny, it can’t be seen,

But it’s big as the sky at night…

I try to explain and it hurts my brain

But once I’m there, it’s right.

There’s a place I know inside myself,

And it’s neither big nor small,

And whenever I go, it feels as though

I never left at all.

This is a children’s poem written by Dennis Lee who apparently has written many volumes of poems for kids.  I picked up a small compilation at the library.

This poem spoke to me when I read it.  I know I have a place I like to retreat to when the going gets tough. I always wonder about my kids.  They live so much in their little worlds that I imagine they have rooms and rooms of these places.

I like to think I have one of these places where God dwells and I can go and have a cup of coffee with Him and chat.  I know He’s there; it’s the finding Him that is the tricky part.

Creation Part 2: John 14

John 14:10-14  Jesus is speaking to Philip and says, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?  The words I say to you are not just my own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing the work.  Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father….You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

John 20:22  “He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Translation:  Because we have Jesus (those who have accepted Him into our hearts) the Holy Spirit now dwells within us.  Jesus explains whoever has faith in Him will do what He has been doing and will do even greater things.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

I believe God can do anything through me.  My mind, my hands, my body are His.  I create with such.  He has granted me the gift of creation because He dwells within me.  I create on a human level, in an Earthly world.  God creates both in Heaven and on Earth.  I create what God has allowed me to create; what He has ordained to fulfill His purposes for me here on Earth.