It is funny the extremes one will find when talking with others about their righteousness or right standing before God. You will run into some people who are highly conscious of their sinfulness and failures. Such people often doubt whether God could ever forgive them or use them in his kingdom. Or you will run into folks who are supremely confident that they must be pleasing to God. They have no doubt about their standing and are highly sure of themselves.
Either group mentioned above can be hard to talk to about spiritual things. And both groups are making an error in judgment. In our society, we often hear that we are not to judge others. Of course, that is a very incorrect handling of Matthew 7:1. But I wonder how many of us make the mistake of thinking we can rightly judge ourselves. How many of us think we know who we are deep down and thus can rightly assess our actions and motives? Let me present to us this for consideration: We are not capable on our own to judge our own lives.
1 Corinthians 4:3-5 – 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
When the apostle Paul was writing to the Corinthian church, he made sure that the church knew that he was inadequate to judge his own life. Paul, the man who wrote nearly half of the New Testament books, said that he was unqualified to declare himself to be anything before the Lord. Paul would not judge himself. Instead, he left the proper judging of his life to the Lord.
Notice as well that Paul said that the judgment of God on our lives would come when the Lord Jesus returns. When Jesus makes his way back to the earth, he will bring to light what is hidden in our lives. He will expose not only our deeds but the motives and purposes of our hearts. Jesus will not simply look at a record book of our actions, but he will see clearer than we have ever seen the exact reasons behind everything we have ever done. He will know when we have done a right thing so that others would be impressed by us. He will know when we have given out of guilt instead of out of joy. He will know when we have tried to make ourselves look good, to gain position, or to put down others.
The point, dear friends, is that we must find ourselves under the grace of Jesus and then leave all assessment of our worth up to him. Alone, we cannot please the Lord. We must believe in Jesus and turn from our sin to be saved. But even when we are saved, we must not think highly of ourselves as if we can see through our own motives. The truth is, we cannot see into our own hearts very well. We may give ourselves too much credit. We may be too hard on ourselves. But either way, our judgment of our own lives and actions will be far from perfect. So may we stop assessing ourselves by our standards, get under the grace of Jesus, and trust him to make us into what he wants us to be.