Have you ever been scared at the thought that your fly may be down? Maybe I am the only one, but this is a legitimate fear of mine. For some odd reason, right before I get out of my car, I will check my fly to see if it is up. Just so we are clear, when I use the word “fly” I am referring to the zipper on jeans. There have been times I have preached and right before I go up on stage I check my fly. Unfortunately for one of my friends, he didn’t do the “check-your-fly-before-you-preach” routine. Because of this, he preached a whole sermon with his fly down. To protect him from this horrid and embarrassing moment, we will call my friend “Jimbo.”
After Jimbo was finished speaking he went back to his seat until service was over. Once our entire service was finished, conversation began. People started to converse and say things like “Did you guys see Jimbo’s fly?” Or “Jimbo’s fly was down the whole time!” Or even my favorite “hahaha.” All of these comments and laughter were integrated into most of the conversations that day.
Instead of asking about the sermon they asked about Jimbo’s fly. It became a distraction to his audience as it took people’s focus away from the message. Just as Jimbo’s fly distracted his audience, in the same way our self-righteousness distracts others from the gospel.
The term “self-righteous” means that we believe we are better than others because we are more righteous than they. Luke 18:9b says “some people…trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.” When we behave well it is easy to see ourselves as more righteous than others because we behave better than them. The more righteous we act and feel, the more vulnerable we are in becoming self-righteous. We are all vulnerable to this. In fact, I fall victim to it almost every day. My natural inclination is to size people up by who is more righteous; me or them. Many times I find my righteousness in my behavior, knowledge, acts of kindness, and lack of sin rather than in God’s grace.
Have you ever had a conversation with a self-righteous person? It’s as if the whole time they talk they size you up with their morality and self-proclaimed righteousness. I don’t know about you, but when I talk to people when I am self-righteous they become deaf to what I have to say. As I talk they see my mouth move, yet the only words they hear from me are “I am better than you.”
When we are self-righteous we distract others from the message we are speaking even if our message is the gospel. Our self-righteousness becomes just as distracting as Jimbo’s fly. Let us not be like Jimbo and neglect the “check-your-fly-before-you-preach” routine, but instead, the moment we wake up let us work hard to do the “check-your-self-righteousness-before-you-leave-the-house” routine.