In his school every child starts the day on green, and his behavior moves him either up the color chart to blue and ultimately purple, or down the chart to yellow, orange, or red. Red means mom and dad have to come in for a serious talk. Usually all the obedient, well-behaved students end up on blue, and everyone is perfectly satisfied with it. But purple? Purple takes something extra-special. It is the height of achievement for a student. No wonder he came out running, shouting, and grinning a smile as wide as our windshield as we watched him through it.
Why is it that I can’t have the same glee, the same sense of accomplishment and exhilaration when I overcome a temptation or grow out of a bad attitude? Why don’t we all come running to share the good news with one another? I’ll tell you why—because we are a bunch of judgmental grumps that’s why. Two things are going to happen if anyone opens his mouth about these things.
First, someone is going to gasp and whisper to another, “You mean he has trouble with that sin?” We can’t share our accomplishments when we are afraid people will look down on us, will lose respect for us, and will probably gossip about us at the first chance they get. “Did you hear about so-and-so? Did you know he has these problems?”
Second, someone else will puff out his chest and say, “Tsk, tsk. Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall!” We can’t share our successes without someone thinking they have to knock us down a peg because of our “pride,” as they so hastily judge it.
In both of these cases, shame, shame, shame on us! Those are unscriptural, even sinful attitudes. Gossip, which is nothing less than slander, is included in that horrible list of sins at the end of Romans 1. And what in the world do we think it means to “Encourage one another?” It means when a pat on the back has been earned, give it! Don’t hoard it with the self-righteous notion that we are doing what is best for the person’s soul—“wouldn’t want him to get the big head.” Would you do that with your children? Would you never praise them for their successes, but only criticize their mistakes?
AA doesn’t do it, and God doesn’t do that either. And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job 1:8.
The Psalms are full of statements by people of God who know they have done right. The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight, Psalm 18:20-24.
Don’t tell me it’s because the Old Testament people did not understand grace and were all about “earning” their salvation by keeping the Law. “Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart…Deut 9:4,5. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy, Dan 9:18.
Those people knew they had not earned God’s love and mercy, but they also knew when they had done well in keeping His commandments. Why do we think it’s a sin to recognize that? The apostles didn’t. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing, 2 Tim 4:7,8.
When my grandson came running out that day I could easily have told the difference between arrogance and joy. Why can’t we tell the same thing about one another? Why can’t we share victories over Satan and expect others will be just as happy about it as we are? God wanted us to know we are saved; he wanted us to be confident in our destiny. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life, 1 John 5:13.
I’ll tell you this, if we are going to “become as little children” and so inherit the kingdom of heaven, we had better stop acting like peevish, petty grown-ups. With that sort of behavior we will never be able to run down the streets of Heaven shouting, “I got purple!”
Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous cause: Yea, let them say continually, Jehovah be magnified, Who hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant, Psalm 35:27.