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Christian, tell me why are you so self-righteous? What makes you think that you’re better than anyone else?
Because…I have a serious condition called SSA: Sinful Selective Amnesia.

OK, I made up the name of the condition. 🙂 But it’s real. Because I’m a sinner, I often forget things that I know to be true about God, mankind, and the relationship between us. Politics and social issues seem to bring on severe symptoms, but the amnesia can manifest in other situations as well.

When I see someone doing something that I’m sure is wrong, something that definitely disobeys God’s clear commands in the Bible, I want to condemn that person. The same thing happens when I see a politician or other public figure doing something unethical. Saddest of all, it can happen simply for someone not doing something the way that I would. In each case, my reaction is too often “Look what they’re doing! They are a horrible person!”

I Forget Two Important Truths.

God Loves Them.

No matter what the “horrible person” (hereinafter referred to as “HP”) is doing, it does not reduce God’s love for them by one iota. He still considers them to be infinitely valuable, worth the life and death of His only Son.

I’m a Sinner, Too.

No matter how “good” I consider my own behavior to be, it does not reduce my sinfulness by one iota. I would still be just as hopelessly separated from God as HP, if not for Jesus’ rescue. Without Jesus, I deserve Hell just as much as HP does! (That’s hard to hear, and to say. But it’s true.)

Now What?

So what am I to do about HP? What is my responsibility toward them?

Pray for Them.

They need to change their actions, true. But more, they need to repent and let Jesus change their hearts. Actions will follow.

Some HP’s are deeply depraved, consciously choosing their evil behavior. Others, though, are simply deceived, not seeing the truth about reality. Actually, even the worst are enslaved by Satan’s deception: that God is not there, not relevant or not worthy of trust and obedience. That doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for their choices. But it does mean that Satan is the real enemy, more than the HP is.

I can pray that God opens their eyes, and draws them to Himself. I can pray that He convict them of their sin, and give them the faith to turn to Him for healing.

Show God’s Love.

That doesn’t mean sappy, starry-eyed overlooking of their actions. It means some tough love, not giving in to accept un-acceptable behavior. But that is tempered with continued acceptance of the person themselves, as a fellow sinner created in God’s image but now broken. Any confrontation should be handled with respect, from alongside rather than looking down from above.

Work to Restrain Their Harm.

When I see wrong-doing and am in a position to address it, I can’t just look the other way. There are plenty of HP’s in the world. No one individual can stop all of them or bring justice and healing to their victims. But each individual can do their small part in whatever sphere of influence they have. If the HP represents political wrong, I can become active in local politics to bring light where I can. (And, of course, I can VOTE.) If it’s societal wrong, I can volunteer with an organization that helps victims or advocates for better policies. If it’s a more personal relationship, I can pray for guidance in dealing with that individual situation.

Look in the Mirror.

I am still responsible to God for not just my outward behavior, but also for my inner attitude. Any time I think that my life is my own, rather than a gift from God to be used for His glory, my sin is showing. I should regularly ask God to make me aware of my sin that I am overlooking (or denying!), and then to help me repent and correct that failing. I should ask Him to do so twice whenever I’m ready to pick at someone else’s sin!

The Cure for SSA

God will cure my selective amnesia when I focus my attention on Him. He will remind me of His heart for people, even HP’s, and of my dependence on Him for my own righteousness. That would be my Jesus-righteousness, received as a gift from Him (Ephesians 2:4-9), not giving me any excuse for self-righteousness.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.