To be truly righteous is to acknowledge our wrongs, not others’ wrongs

Luke 18:9-14. How the Pharisee and the tax collector prayed

It feels good to boost our own ego by finding delight in the shortcomings of others. But this is a trap – doesn’t this breed a sense of pride, entitlement, and false sense of superiority?

Misery loves company, and at times, it feels like a mix of guilt and comfort to know that others have problems too (or may have things worse than us). Instead of empathy, we channel a ego-driven sense of pity, as if saying, “Poor you! Lucky me!”

This is why when we judge that there are people who undeservedly gets mercy or rewards, we feel angry; as if the fortune of others is like our punishment.

So the challenge is to stay the course, to be virtuous, even when it feels that we’re not getting rewarded, when it feels tempting to be envious of others instead of grateful for our graces. The solution, I think, is for us to lean into virtues for the sake of virtues, and not virtues for the sake of rewards. Like great artists who craft art for the sake of art and not for public adulation, so to shall we do good for the sake of being good.


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