One of the great problems with following God is that we can start believing we somehow deserve it. We can start to think that whatever we were before, we are now a good person and deserve God’s commendation. And we can start to look down on those do not meet up with our standards of behavior. The result can be that, rather than showing consideration for others as we are commanded (Titus 3:1,2; Colossians 4:5,6; Romans 12:14-21), we can become self-righteous and despise those who we regard as morally inferior (Matthew 9:10-13; Luke 7:36-50; 19:7-10). When this happens we need to revisit our salvation and remember how it came about.
We need to start out by remembering that we were ourselves sinners who needed to be redeemed (Titus 3:3; Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 3:23). Nor where we able to do anything to earn salvation (Titus 3:4,5; Galatians 2:21; Romans 3:19,20). We obtained it based on faith in Christ (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Philippians 3:9). Because He paid the price for our sins (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21), we can be declared just before God based on what He has done (Titus 3:7; Romans 3:24-31; 8:33,34). As a result of this, we became heirs of God who will obtain eternal life (Romans 8:14-17; John 3:16; 1 John 5:11-13). Further, it is the Holy Spirit who works in us to cause us to respond to this salvation. He works in us to bring us to faith (Acts 15:14; John 6:44; 1:12,13). It is also the Holy Spirit who works in us after we come to Christ to change us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:16; Colossians 1:29). Therefore, we have nothing to boast in, as being from ourselves, for everything we have comes from God.
Now if we realize that we are God’s children because of grace and anyone else can become God’s child based on grace, we will not end up looking down on them. And we will be able to treat them with love and consideration. Now this is not always easy. We need to love them without approving of what they do. But the first step is to realize that we are not better than they are, that we are sinners who are saved by the grace of God. We then have at least some possibility of putting things in perspective. For there is nothing so destructive as the attitude of self-righteousness. It alienates us from other people and makes it difficult to reach them with God’s truth. And reaching people, even those who are currently in clear rebellion against God’s standards, is what we are called to do.