I am and always will be a sinner. But that’s the beautiful thing about Jesus. I’ll always try to be a better person in the eyes of God. But I’m not all of a sudden stepping up on a pedestal and saying I’m holier than thou, ’cause I’m not! – Billy Ray Cyrus
I totally agree with Billy. The holier than thou attitude is really irksome.
I have encountered so many Christians with a holier-than-thou attitude. I have nothing against Christians for I am a Christian myself. I will be the first to admit that I am not a “dedicated” Christian. I know I am a sinner but so is almost everyone on earth. It just puts me off when I encounter holier-than-thou Christians with their condescending, self-righteous attitudes.
I remember sitting in a Bible study meeting for businessmen several years ago. Two so-called leaders of a certain church were part of the group. They raised the issue of the new health products being marketed by direct selling companies. To them, they felt that Christians should not believe in such products but rather they should pray to God than put their trust in such products. Oh yeah? I felt like telling them that then they should not go to see doctors when they are sick…just pray to God!
These two “leaders” also criticized another member of the group for buying her house in an area surrounded by people of other faith just for the sake of convenience. In their opinion, one should not buy a house just because of its location but rather buy one that can bring glory to God. My only question is this: Does it mean a house in a location surrounded by people of other faith cannot bring glory to God?
In my life journey, I have encountered countless so-called matured Christians who seem to enjoy gossiping about others, jumping to conclusions without getting their facts right, or whose actions betray their lack of love and compassion for others. Yes, they go to church every Sunday…..they attend Bible study…..they play an active role in church……in other words, they portray themselves as “dedicated” Christians. But where are they when others need their love and compassion? And when a fellow church member is perceived to have done something “wrong”, they often avoid this person like the plague. Where is the forgiveness and compassion?
I have a good friend who went through a painful divorce several years ago. It took a heavy toll on him but by the grace of God, he later got to know another Christian lady. After about a year of courting, they got married. For his wedding dinner, he sent out invitations to some of his Christian friends whom he believed were his close friends. And guess what? None of these “friends” turned up for the dinner. What was even worse was that they did not even have the courtesy to inform him that they were not coming, causing him to have to pay for all the empty seats at the wedding dinner. I guess these “holier-than-thou” Christians felt that they did not want to “grace” the wedding dinner of someone who had gone through a divorce.
Many years ago, I met an Australian through my involvement in a multi-level marketing company. At that time, I had not been baptized by any church. The Australian asked me whether I was a Christian. I told him that I wasn’t but I sometimes did pray to God. He then asked me if I believed in Jesus Christ. I answered affirmatively. The Australian then told me that in that case, I am a Christian. He told me that it does not mean that you are not a Christian if you don’t go to church. You can worship and pray in the comfort of your home if that suits you best. He share with me that the most important is my personal relationship with God…what others think is not important for God knows your heart. Listen to the voice in your heart. That touched me.
The holier-than-thou attitude is portrayed and condemned in the Bible, especially in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14).
The Pharisee used what would have been considered the right form in his prayer (he thanked God for his righteousness rather than taking credit for it himself.). By way of contrast, the tax collector did not use good form and his prayer consisted of one measly petition which admitted his gross errors, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
The “tax collector,” not the Pharisee, went home justified before God! The Pharisee’s words had betrayed his spirit. He was relying upon what he had done resulting in a holier than thou attitude whereas the tax collector had come before God seeking His mercy.
The Parable confronts us with the arrogance of pride on the one hand and humility on the other. I believe it will be worth our while spending a little more time on working getting our hearts to a humble and contrite state as opposed to a hardened, conceited one.
It means that you think you know more regarding spiritual matters and think that you do no wrong or your wrongs are justified while quick to find faults in other people and a person is so eager to get rid of the speck in your eye when they can’t see past the beam in their own eye. Actually they are hypocrites, and they will be of no good until they get rid of the beam in their eyes to see well enough to deal with the speck in someone else eye.
It is so easy to fall into a self-righteous, holier than thou attitude.
Many Christians like to compare themselves to other Christians, often thinking that they are somewhat more religious, more anointed, more well-versed than others. That is not how true Christianity works.
God does not care about our achievements. He is concerned about the sincerity of our hearts and that we are reconciled with Him and rest in His glory.
Colossians 3: 12 – 14 says;
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
As you search your heart do you find that you are like the Pharisee in your approach to God, or are you like the tax collector?
Too often we tend to forget that none of us are worthy of His grace – as Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Inevitably, whenever a person begins to rely upon “what I have done” as a measurement of how good I am, the result is to think lower of those who have done less.
How can a Christian fortify himself against a holier than thou attitude after having served God faithfully? Jesus pointed to the answer in Luke 17:7-10: “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
Someone who serves God should realize that by doing what God wants of him he is only fulfilling his responsibility and purpose. He is not demonstrating his goodness, nor building up a reserve of righteousness for boasting.
Again I will be the first to admit that I am not a dedicated Christian. I have my faults and my shortcomings. But that is between me and God. Just let me find my own way on my spiritual journey. I don’t need any holier than thou advice, ok?
Having said that, I have been blessed with the opportunities to cross paths with Christians who have impacted me positively with their lifestyle and their compassion. I thank God for people like John Wong, Stephen Ong (my ex-boss in Brunei),Sophia Tan (my ex-colleague in Brunei), Poh Teck Lim (Kuching), Poh Ted Ang (Kuching), Ong Hock Siew (Kuala Lumpur), Victor Ho (Malaysian working in Brunei), Helena Chin (Kuala Lumpur), Dr Adrian Panggabean (Indonesia), Dato Anthony Chin (Brunei), Dato Sherlock Chin (Brunei) and Mr & Mrs Lee Chow Seng (Singapore). May God bless you all!