THIS can happen to anyone of us. Self-righteousness is a common disease, since all of us have our share of pride and arrogance. We may not acknowledge it—a more insidious situation to be in, since pride has a tremendous blinding power—but we can fall into it from time to time, especially when we make rash judgments, easily jump to conclusions, stereotype people, making a habit of finding fault at others, etc.
What is worse is when it is not only quiet and secretive, but rather open and loud, and can get even physical, or when it defines the very character of a person. It is shown in the way he carries himself, he looks at others, he speaks and reacts to things. He oozes with over-self-confidence, with a tone of voice that cannot be other than bossy and strident.
That’s when we can speak of the self-righteous bully. He gives the impression that he knows everything, that he is superior to others, etc. He is usually one who is gifted in some way—physically, intellectually or, worse, spiritually.
The source of their problem is the gifts given to them, which they do not know how to handle properly. Instead of being humbled by them and always aware that the gifts are meant for God’s glory and the good of others, they make these endowments a source of their pride. They are highly opinionated. They like to dominate any discussion. They want always to have the last word.
The prototype of this creature was the religious leaders during Christ’s time. Despite all the signs of the divine and redemptive character of Christ, they were always suspicious of him, until finally they managed to put him to death.
We have to be most careful of this spiritual virus. The moment we see the slightest signs of its onset on us, we have to react immediately and strongly, deepening our humility and strengthening our desire to always glorify God and to be at the service of others.
We should reflect the attitude of Christ who said that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20,28) We have to learn how to pass unnoticed even as we are determined in carrying out our tasks and duties in life.
The awareness of our gifts or special charisms should also intensify the awareness of the great responsibility we have to fulfill because of them. Because of this, we should always feel the need to go to God, convinced that it can only be with him that we can do things properly. We should never think we can simply rely on our own powers.
And then let’s start to figure out how to reach out to others and serve them the way God wants them served through those God-given gifts. When see a self-righteous bully, let’s pray for him and offer sacrifices for him, and do everything to help him discover his proper place and use his gifts rightly.
But let’s start with our own selves. Whatever changes we want to make the world a better place to live in should start with our own selves!