How Jesus Describes Righteous And Unrighteous People

How Jesus Describes Righteous And Unrighteous People

How Jesus describes righteous and unrighteous people is found in a parable in Luke 18:9-14. The story involves a Pharisee and tax collector who pray next to one another in the temple. Here are three differences between them that Jesus points out in the story.

But first, what does the Bible means by righteousness? And here is what it is NOT: A person who is morally superior to other people.

However, scripture does consistently describes righteous people as those who strive to follow God’s commands and the teachings of Jesus. In other words, they try to do the right thing according to scripture. But while righteous people strive to keep God’s law, they regularly fail. They know it, confess it, and then move forward to pursue it again.

How Jesus describes righteous and unrighteous people. A self-righteous person measures against other people. A righteous person measures against God’s standard

V.11 God I thank you that I am not like other men…

V.13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven

The Pharisee in the parable already considers himself righteous. And why does he qualify? Because he compares himself to other people he considers morally inferior to him. And let’s give him some credit. On the outside, his religious life was probably exemplary. He did all the right religious things and avoided the moral misdeeds of those sinful people he compared himself to.

But he neglected an important aspect of sin. It goes beyond our physical actions and is often committed in our minds and heart. And when God measures our righteousness, he looks at the heart.

The tax collector understood that his real level of accountability was to God’s standard. He was so shamefully below that standard he couldn’t even look towards heaven. But he knew something else too. And that’s what drove his prayer.

A self-righteous person celebrates their virtue. A righteous person confesses their sin and celebrates God’s grace

V.12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get…

V.13 God be merciful to me, a sinner.

The Pharisee lists all his virtues and they actually are pretty impressive. Some of the things you and I do are pretty impressive too. And when we compile a list and compare it to the horrific deeds of bad people, we may look morally superior.

But here’s the problem. God doesn’t grade on a curve. His standard is absolute perfection. And absolutely no one–except for Jesus Christ–meets that standard.

That’s what Paul means in Romans 6:23 when he says the wages of sin is death. If you are counting on your good works to earn your way to heaven, you aren’t going to make it.

The tax collector knew this and he cried out to God for mercy. And we can too. Because the good news of the gospel is that we are not saved by our good works, but by the grace of God.

How Jesus describes righteous and unrighteous people. A self-righteous person demonstrates pride. A righteous person demonstrates humility

V.14 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Nothing blinds us like pride. The Pharisee was oblivious to it. And as he itemized the good deeds that qualified him as righteous, he completely missed his sin. Or conveniently ignored it.

Sin is the white elephant in the room. We all recognize it. Acknowledge its often devasting consequences. But avoid even using the term. And instead we say things like, “nobody’s perfect” and “everybody makes mistakes.” But admit we often intentionally do things we know are wrong, and that deep in our hearts and minds are some pretty horrible thoughts? Well, we don’t want to go there.

But to be truly righteous, we have to. With honesty…vulnerability…and humility. Because God is not impressed with our virtuous actions, religious pedigrees or spiritual presentations. He’s looking directly into and surveying the condition of our hearts.

And when you willingly face your depravity and call on God’s mercy, He raises you up. It’s what he does in the story with the tax collector. And with you and me. So be real. Be broken. And healed by God’s grace.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

The Prodigal Son Bible Parable On Lost And Found

The Prodigal Son Bible Parable On Lost And Found

The Prodigal Son Bible Parable On Lost and Found is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. Here are three lessons it teaches.

The Prodigal Son Bible Parable on lost and found teaches God let’s you decide for yourself

The story involves a father and son and illustrates the relationship God desires with you and me. He is a heavenly Father that wants a personal relationship with each one of us. In the story however, the son thinks only of himself. He demands his inheritance in order to leave home, live independently, and pursue his own desires.

It reveals the truth of our sinful, selfish, human nature that puts “me” first. And the lustful desires and passions that lure us away from our heavenly Father’s love and care.

The father in the story was under no obligation to grant the son an inheritance before his death. But did so out of love. Why? Because he wanted his son to willingly choose a relationship with him. It is the same with you and me. God won’t force himself on us. We all choose to accept or reject a relationship with him. And to ignore him or say that’s a decision you will make later is to reject him.

The Prodigal Son Bible parable on lost and found teaches you must recognize your sinful condition

When the son leaves, the story focuses exclusively on him and the father is out of the picture. But is he?

Now the son follows his passions without restraint. But the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure has consequences. He eventually runs out of money and has to find work, although he is still hungry and miserable. And it makes you wonder. What if the supply of money hadn’t run out? Would the son have returned home or simply lived a party lifestyle the rest of his life?

The same question applies today. How long will people chase the illusion of hedonistic pleasure? Yes, it seems great at first. Because as long as you can keep the fun going–one pleasurable moment followed by another–you can numb the pain and ignore the emptiness. But it eventually catches up with you. And grows stale like old cigar smoke.

And only when you reach rock bottom physically, emotionally or spiritually do you see the reality of your condition. God is the last resort when you are all out of options. Which is what happens in the story. The son finally comes to his senses as he suffers the most deplorable conditions and turns back to his father.

The Prodigal Son Bible story teaches God waits eagerly for your return

When the father sees his son returning in the distance, he rushes to meet him. He doesn’t condemn or chastise him for leaving. Say “I told you so.” Or even wait for the son to finish his full apology. Because he is filled with unbelievable joy that the son has returned.

Have you left God and now wonder if it was a good idea? Wonder if God still loves you? If he will still take you back? Then let this story answer your question. YES!

God is waiting for you. Eager for your return. But it has to be your choice. And you must do so in humility and with a repentant heart. When you do, he will rush to meet you. And there will be a heavenly celebration.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.