I am a man who takes pride in my ashamedness, and loves my self-hated. I think silently to myself, how better than those consumer Christians am I with my self-awareness and good doctrine? Surely God prefers me, the guilt-ridden servant, over the comfortable, self-loving and cheery imitation!
I think I am better than them, I am sorry to admit, and I think I am better than you if you might be the type that I would categorize as a consumer Christian or benefits-only believer. It is only by God’s underserved and arguably unwanted grace upon me that I painfully see my likeness to the Pharisee who boasts in his righteousness over the tax collector (Luke 18:11-12).
Smooth as try to pray, I shout too often by my my works:
Look at me, Father! See my humility! See how I hate myself! Oh, how I hate myself even more than you must, Father. Comfort me, Lord, as I expect you must surely desire, for I have tricked you into feeling sorry for me.
Like a child, I mope in my misery, persecuting myself so that you will only have pity on me. Pity that I will deserve not because you are gracious and not because of your work on the cross, but because I have earned it. I have earned your favor and your grace by condemning myself more harshly than I deserve, and I have robbed you of any opportunity to reveal to me an inadequacy of mine by developing a habit of pridefully exposing my pride. Or so I think.
I am unrepentant, Father, and I trust too often not in the cross, but in the pity I hope to have manufactured within You. How better am I than those who accept themselves as you have received them.
Even now, I hope that you, my reader, might be impressed with me. I hope that you will admire my self-awareness and humble-looking position.
Truthfully though, I am free from condemnation. Much as my flesh may foolishly prefer it, I do not get what I deserve, praise God. The truth is that what goes around doesn’t even usually come around, and what I put out does not dictate what I receive. I am neither better nor worse than you, brother/sister, but am by God’s grace level with all whom have fallen short, which is to say all.
I resist grace, like I resist good food and water for cheap and inferior substitutes.
I hope that you will relate where we are relatable, and forgive me for where I have stood over you. If you are inclined to think I am too hard on myself, may I invite you to consider that it may be because you prefer a god who only comforts and never challenges; who is far more interested in your happiness than your holiness. And, if you relate closely with me, may I invite you to consider that you are not justified by your guilt. This I say knowing that you, like I, might now feel tempted to feel guilty for having felt guilty.
Praise God for truth that refines, albeit uncomfortable.