Letter #3 – The self in righteousness

Posted on 16. Nov, 2011 by in God

Letter #3 The self in righteousness
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 16, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 16, 2001

Dear Brett,

I wrote you yesterday about this issue of reliance vs. self-reliance. I need to address one more hyphenated “self” issue with you today. This one’s going to sting a bit so brace yourself.

You became a Christian when you were 14. Everything changed after that. You got really involved with your youth group. Your youth pastor discipled you. You grew so much spiritually during your high school years.

But there’s a problem with rapid spiritual growth: self-righteousness.

Brett, self-righteousness is simply looking to yourself for the answers to all of life’s questions and dilemmas. It can be spiritual or secular in nature.

Spiritually self-righteous people focus on DOING. Youth group Christianity–what you’ve known for the last five years–is very DO and DO NOT based.

DO read your Bible.

DO pray.

DO go to church.

DO NOT drink alcohol.

DO NOT have sex.

DO NOT listen to bad music.

These are all moral instructions either directly or indirectly rooted in Scripture. But Brett, this is NOT Christianity. At its core, Christianity is much more of a being religion than a doing religion. Of course we are called to do–obey, give, serve, etc–but we have to begin and remain in the be. To be is to accept what someone else has done for you. To do is to try to do that for yourself.

Self-righteousness looks different for different people, but I know how it looks for you, Brett:

Looking down on people.

Viewing anyone who drinks alcohol as evil.

Viewing anyone who smokes as evil.

Being convinced that your theology is 100% right.

Being confident (or arrogant) in areas where you should be extending grace.

Expecting grace from all, extending grace to few.

Priding yourself on being “a good Christian guy” and using that reputation as a weapon of influence.

There is also a secular self-righteousness you practice:

Villifying anyone that appears “liberal.”

Looking down on other nationalities, viewing them as inferior.

Looking down on people of lesser socio-economic status, viewing them as inferior.

Defending political ideologies out of kneejerk reaction instead of objectively evaluating them for their merit.

Grace is a funny thing, Brett. It’s the antidote to self-righteousness. You’re going to discover more grace in the coming years. But beyond that, you’re going to need more of it in the coming years. A lot more.

Remember this, Brett.


P.S. Baseball & steroids: A soon-to-be match made in heaven.

2 Responses to “Letter #3 – The self in righteousness”

  1. Greg

    23. Nov, 2011

    I think we get entangled in the “got to be right!” trap…so entangled that we begin to treat people as less than people. Indeed, where is the grace in that!?
    My apologies for contributing to your entanglement.
    SO GLAD you have been released from the snare and are running through the fields of grace.

  2. Frederick

    03. Jul, 2014


    thanks for information!!…

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