|Can you believe people? Some think they’re better than you. Others think they can curry favor from God by doing “good deeds.” Some of them write weekly emails, claiming to tell you how to think about Muslims.
Self-righteousness has two lobes: I do good things to gain the favor of God. And I sense the good things I do (or bad things I don’t) make me better than others.
Some examples of the poison I’ve imbibed over the years, “I’m good, or at least better than you, because I: Go to church. Don’t smoke. Swear little. Live poor. Never been divorced.” Of course, the ship has sailed on some of these.
I’ve long thought of Ramadan as a self-righteousness tour de force. A time when Muslims work hard to gain favor from God. “The less I eat, the more you’ll like me.” And I suppose some fast to show others how darn holy they are!
Now I’m more hesitant than before (though still not very hesitant) to ascribe motivation to anyone’s behavior. The line between fasting to show devotion to God or to curry favor from him is fuzzy at best. I’ve had friends who for all the world seemed to fast because God said to and to show their love and devotion to him.
Even so, I know from myself, the best of efforts can be laced with subtle, but evil intent.
So I pray: “Father, deliver me from the sweet poison of self-righteousness. Deliver us. Deliver Muslims who right now take pleasure in their fasting, trusting in their good deeds to gain right status with you, hoping others are impressed by their religion. For the sake of their beloved souls, take that pleasure away. From them. From me. From all of us. Amen.”