"Before you can (know you are right with God) you must not only be troubled for your sins of your life, but also for the sins of your best duties and performances...before you can be at peace with God, there must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness; it is the last idol taken out of your heart. The pride of our heart will not let us submit to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But if you never felt that you had no righteousness of your own or if you never felt the deficiency of your own righteousness, you cannot come to Jesus Christ."
When I read this quote, I thought of many of my responses to an article I read by Ayn Rand called Faith & Force. Now, I know she isn't a christian theologian, she is a philosopher, so separate the wheat from the chaff in reading her works. But, her thoughts relating to mankind needing to get free from what she calls "altruism"; really made me think about some stuff, especially in my own life. She basically attacked the common idea that man is only valuable in relationship to what he or she does for others. That there is no self worth apart from what we produce or provide for others. Now as a missionally motivated person...this challenged the core of my conceptions of missional living.
George kind of hits the same issue though, after thinking about it from a different angle...if our life is based on "works"...righteous or unrighteous...we are drawing our sense of value from an unhealthy motivation.
Looking deep into ones motivation and examining "why" we "do" stuff....is part of the serious work of contemplation.
"The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart (Proverbs 20:27)."
God's Word is quick (alive) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12.
Would you be valuable to God and this world...if you couldn't "do" anything? Some of my relationships with the mentally handicapped have forced me to rethink my conceptions of "worth" and "work" and even "mission". So much of our individualistic culture, places such a value on productivity and value. Economics reduces us to evaluate life by its terms. Everything is "marked" in our thinking and in our works with this kind of attitude and action.
At the end of the day...I find myself pondering deeply about these things and wondering what my Father will be most proud of, when I finally see Him and hear His heart.