You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self . . .to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. —Ephesians 4:22-24
Do you know that self-righteous people are the hardest people in the world to reach?
I would rather deal with anybody rather than a self-righteous Christian. I have begun praying, "God, save me from self-righteousness." It is the easiest trait in the world to enter into my own life when I literally think I'm in the right and it's the other person that is in the wrong.
When you are dealing with a self-righteous person, you have a battle on your hands. And this is why smugness is so dangerous.
We can recognize smugness in other people although seldom can we see it in ourselves; yet it is one of those things that is hard to prove. You find it wherever you go; they all believe that they are the ones that have got it right: "We are the ones God is blessing; we are saying this, this, this . . ." Where is that one who will say, "There is something wrong with us!"
In order not to have to listen to what God may be saying through someone else, we justify ourselves as being the ones through whom God is going to work; if blessing comes, it will come through us! We do not like to think that God could be doing a work somewhere else with someone of whom we do not approve.
Perhaps you do not like this teaching. But if this sounds like you, then if you go on that way I guarantee you, one day your superstructure of smugness will come out. The truth is that smug people have no objectivity about themselves; they live in a dream world. They do not think, for they know they are right!
The rule of thumb, therefore, is stay smug, and you will erect a superstructure of straw. Be broken, and you will erect a superstructure of gold.
Excerpted from When God Says "Well Done!" (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1993)