A few years back, I was leading the Altar Prayer team at my church. (I only mention this to say, leaders are not perfect and still should be teachable). I was praying for a young woman who was experiencing financial difficulties. She had just come back from a mission’s trip. As I prayed for her, I was ‘reminding’ God of all her good deeds and her selfless acts.
I left to go home and as soon as I was around the corner from church, God spoke very clearly to me. He said, “Don’t pray like that again.” I knew it was God because there was no condemnation, no guilt, no shame and it was very specific. It actually made me laugh. He went on to say, “I don’t bless people because they are good. I bless people because I am good.”
I’m reading the book of Job and I think Job’s biggest sin was self-righteousness. Job felt as if he deserved God’s blessing. When I was praying for that woman, I was essentially saying, she has done x,y, and z therefore she has “earned” God’s blessing.
We can all fall into self-righteous thinking from time to time. Here is a perfect example: when you have an unexpected expense – the car breaks, the water heater goes out, do you search your past to see if you have “sinned”. If you are shown favor or get an unexpected gift, do you think it’s because an act of kindness you have shown someone or because of a gift you gave or a selfless act you committed? When something bad happens, do you think, “Why me?”
So here is truth:
1. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, “YOU ARE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS. Your good acts do not make you righteous. Your righteousness was given to you by Jesus’ good works.
2. None of us “deserves” anything from God. God blesses us because He is good and when He sees us, He sees us in Christ.
3. We are sons and daughters. How many of you only feed your children when they perform well?
4. God is not Santa Claus. There is NO naughty or nice list. Just a redeemed list and your name is on it.
So my encouragement to you is to avoid Job like prayers:
Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. (Job 29:11-16 NIV)