"Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight."
Self-Righteousness Leads to Disillusionment
There's a nice poem circulating on the Internet about a woman who bought
some cookies and a book at an airport and sat down to read and nibble while
waiting for her plane. She soon noticed a man sitting next to her, who
casually took a cookie from the bag.
Although shocked and furious, the woman remained silent as the man, without
the slightest sign of shame or gratitude, quietly helped himself, matching
her cookie for cookie.
When there was one cookie left, she watched in amazement as he picked it up,
smiled at her as if he were being gracious, and broke it in half. He ate one
half and gave her the other. Congratulating herself for maintaining her
cool, she said nothing to this rude cookie thief, astonished at the nerve of
Later, when she was settling into her seat on the plane, she rummaged
through her purse and discovered the bag of cookies she'd purchased, still
unopened. The moral message is contained in the poem's closing stanza:
"If mine are here," she moaned with despair,
"Then the others were his, and he tried to share."
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.
Being sure is not the same as being right. Certainty without humility can
lead to self-righteousness that distorts our view and understanding of the
world and of people.
Humility does not require us to be equivocal or doubtful about our deepest
convictions about religion and right and wrong. What it asks is that we hold
and advocate our beliefs without dismissing the possibility that others may
be right, too. Or, as in the cookie case, we might not be right at all.
In His Love & Service,
Pastor Larry E. Campbell
St. Paul A.M.E. Church, San Bernardino, CA
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