Dear Everybody, We have a serious problem. All of us think we’re good and know what is right. But Jesus says we’re not and we don’t. I’m right beside you in need of His mercy. Sincerely, Debbie Hucke
Romans 3:10b, 11a …“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands;
Have you heard the term virtue signaling? It has become the heartbeat of social media. And with the necessity of more online communication, its influence and reach has become… pandemic, no pun intended.
Definition — “virtue signaling is the sharing of one’s point of view on a social or political issue, in order to garner praise or acknowledgment of one’s righteousness from others who share that point of view, or to passively rebuke those who do not.”
I, like so many of you, was sickened by what happened to George Floyd. Before the national reaction dominated, my emotions ran the gamut. Shock, anger, disgust, shame and heartbreak, to name just a few.
After things escalated, the public response though, has confounded me. I’m not referring to the protests, the dangerous and destructive riots or even the outrage directed at our president. I’m a middle aged white woman, and my heart is heavy. But it feels to me as if a mob stands alert watching me tip toe across a tightrope of empathy. One little slip from their narrow scrutiny of what is a proper way to feel or behave, and I’m toast.
Our country is in turmoil. To me it seems as if God has peeled back a corner of the sky to give us a glimpse of what we are capable of. And its the evil we humans are capable of that scares me more than any virus. Lord have mercy!
A God-shaped Vacuum
We were all created to crave security, significance and love. (Sometimes referred to as a God-shaped vacuum.) And it’s true whether we love God or not. That person that I vehemently disagree with, ultimately wants the same thing I want. Here’s the catch… this deep longing in our soul, can only be fully satisfied by the Lord Himself.
Pulling off the good-life
When an unredeemed heart or tough circumstances, or our own self righteous pride clouds the truth of God’s sufficiency, we take matters into our own hands. We attempt to bless ourselves. By virtue signaling we escape and feel vindicated and pretty darn good about ourselves. We’re teased to think we can pull off this good life.
Did you know that when someone confirms your “rightness” (a thumbs up on your post, for example) you receive a dopamine hit? We become addicted to being right. But just like any other vice, It doesn’t last. We’ll need another hit.
A self-righteous person thinks their beliefs and morals are better than everyone else’s. And we humans, are self-righteous machines. We think or act the way we want, then go to brilliant lengths to justify it. “At least I’m better than she is. I had a good reason. I’m not as bad as that.” If something cracks the foundation of our defense, we double down with more justification.
As citizens of a sharply divided country, from our armchairs, we’re the self appointed judges of good and bad. With thoughtful soundbites, we’ve got it figured out.
But what if Jesus expects, even demands, a different approach?
The Older Brother
Remember the older brother in the prodigal son story? (Luke 15:11-32) This is the brother who stayed home to serve his father while the prodigal demanded his inheritance and left home to sow his wild oats. Even though the older brother didn’t do anything blatantly wrong, he’s completely lost and not even aware of it.
When the prodigal hits rock bottom he returns home in desperation, prepared to eat with the pigs. The older brother is indignant and refuses to celebrate his brothers return. He’s also angry and resentful of their fathers merciful and loving welcome. In the end, it’s the older brother’s self righteousness that is the most repugnant and deadly.
The Good Friday Criminal
Recall the scene on Good Friday, The guilty criminal hangs next to Jesus with nothing to offer. But because the bad dude humbles himself and acknowledges Jesus, he is promised eternity. “Today you’ll be with me in paradise.” Wrap your brain around that… the criminal is nearer to the heart of Jesus than the hard hearted older brother who on the outside looks like the good guy who followed the rules.
Truth of the Gospel
Looks are deceiving. The truth of the gospel is… humble yourself, or you die. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. Jesus ultimately isn’t impressed with our supposed goodness because its not enough; it’s never enough. Very few people will give up being right. For the proud, Jesus is the biggest threat imaginable. For the humble He is the securest refuge.
The struggle is REAL
In my view, the battle against our self righteous pride becomes our greatest battle of all; ultimately life or death. Consider all the energy we could save if we gave up all the moral calculus needed to judge good versus bad, right versus wrong. How about we give up the gavel and allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting and God to administer justice? After all, God is very good at being God. Besides, when we give up His duties, we are freed to humbly rest in His grace. Only then is the pathway clear to actually hear His voice.
God, don’t you see what is happening in our country, and in our world? Things are urgent. Shouldn’t I do something? In my earnest time with Him, the Lord has impressed upon me the necessity to get the order right. Humility must come first.
Psalm 25:9. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Dear Merciful Lord, I come to you on my knees with a repentant heart. The burden to be the moral judge in this corrupt world is heavy. And today, I lay it at your feet. I am dust without YOU and YOUR righteousness. Please help me to see what you see and value what you value. My hearts desire is your promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Lord Have Mercy and heal our land.
Thanks for these life-giving words, Debbie. Powerful and convicting as usual. I’ve often thought about that older brother and how much he and I are alike… scary!
The older brother… so good at keeping score. Thank God for His mercy and grace. Pleased to welcome you as a subscriber.
Well you sure ruined my morning! Here I was all morally superior in my campaign to educate people in rightful thinking. Then you got to the part about giving up the gavel. Relief swept over me. Yes, resting in grace, letting God be God, let the Holy Spirit move. How could I ever think I was somehow appointed to set things right! I confess my arrogance and pride. I, too, pray to lay that terrible burden down this day and seek rest and trust in Him.
Dorma, I am right beside you sister. Thank you for your humble comment. I respect you more than you know. Praying hard.
Terri Roseth says
Dorma, may I repeat what you said as exactly my feelings! Amen and amen. God help me lay down this burden and trust you to do your job. Terri
May God honor your humble plea! What a relief. Enjoy the benefits of real rest in His grace.
Anne kole says
Debbie, you’ve given me a new way to think about humility. It’s easy to be proud of how humble I am! That’s usually when God corrects me and brings about circumstances that wipe away that pride. This is a battle for me, and you express it well. I am thankful for our Savior.. He saved us once on the cross. He stands ready to save us each day from ourselves, and he loves us with an everlasting love! Just remembering that is humbling.
Ha… proud of my humility. Well said! I’m resting in some relief. Thank you Anne. Praying Vince is improving.
Debbie, this really struck home with me. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am the world’s BEST hall monitor! Just ask anyone! Thanks to the reminders in scripture you gave me here, I will try to do better!
Ha! My favorite “first job” was perched atop the 2nd floor stacks in the student book store looking for shoplifters. From one hall monitor to another… thank God for His Mercy, no “trying” required.
Your thoughts are wonderful. I feel like I am back in the 60’s which you do not remember. I was a young girl and totally confused and sad about so much that went on at that time. Once again I am heartsick about all that is going on in our wonderful country. I feel like we are stuck. I pray that God will bless us all and help us with the much needed changes that are so needed. Remember that he loves us all equally.
Yes… I too am praying the Lord uses these tragedies for His good purposes.
John Reith says
Hello. My name is John and I am a recovering Pharisee.
PERFECT…. Nice to meet you John. My name is Debbie and I’m in the same recovery program.
Paula Koy says
Debbie, you have given us so much to think about in this weekly post. It opened my eyes so I could see clearer and opened by ears to hear better. It helped me to understand what is going on in our world, and helped me to understand my own thoughts & feelings. I now understand more about self-righteousness than I had before. Thank you for sharing your gift with us! If I knew how to send you a “thumbs up” emoji, I’d send you a shot of dopamine for a job well done! (:
HA! So funny Paula. I’ve been hit! Self Righteousness/ pride is not one of the sins we like to talk about. Comes very close to home!
Ginger Horner says
Good message this morning, Debbie. Ties in with Matt’s sermon of last Sunday, too.
I am in the same recovery program as was mentioned above.
Gerrie Dempsey says
Reminds me of the song we used to sing, “Oh Lord it is hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way” Your scripture was perfect for this attitude( the first one)
I don’t know that song. Thanks Gerrie, for adding your thoughts.
Your writings today forced me to sit back and reflect on my actions. Thank you for recognizing a great need today. Blessings.
Thank you JoAnn. Thanks for your comment. Welcome to my blog!
I pray daily to be a Mary instead of a Martha. I get worked up, I gotta say it, I gotta do it, especially when it comes to my children. I need to get my priorities straight and not get upset and worried. Instead… sit at his feet, as Mary did and listen. Jesus wants us to get our priorities straight.
Thank you Donna. He does. It has only been a few days, but I’m praying for a heightened awareness of my judgement and self righteous thoughts. What I think is funny, may actually hurt someone. And what “good” does it accomplish. Thank God for His mercy!
An inspirational reminder, that I am not the moral monitor but should be a humble prayer warrior. Let go and let God.
Bless you for this message.
Humble prayer warriors unite. Good to hear from you!
Sheila Harris says
Oh, Debbie – No wonder you connected my comments with your blog! Thank you so much with your insights and for being so transparent. You have encouraged me and what? “Awakened” me? Put me back in proper stead with my Lord, trusting Him utterly. Easier said than done. I am very glad to be back on your mailing list. I love you, Debbie, and it has been a majot blessing getting to know you even better these past weeks.
It was my oversight to have lost you. So glad you’re back. And ditto!
Glenda Demmie says
This message is just what I needed today. Lord Have Mercy On Me ! Thank you for your timely and relevant messages each week.
Hannatjie Delport says
Our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the evil spirits. All that will help is to pray. Please God save our land. Send Your angels to minister and fight the evil spirits on our behalf.
I agree. I often think we do-ers think prayer is passive. It is the most impactful powerful weapon we have. Thanks for your comment.
The struggle is real. The reminders are timely. Thank you Debbie for keeping it at a level I can relate to.
Yeah Mary. Thanks friend. I hope our paths cross soon. Debbie
How sad for our country/world that we must write or comment about these events. As usual Debbie, you have hit the nail right on the head. “Very few of us will give up being right.” Armchair judges and walking a tightrope. You hit it.
Humility, so hard to achieve. Thank you for reminding us.
Double Whammy because Mercy was also Doug’s sermon this morning. Hope to see you sometime soon.