I know I can be frustrating to people, pastors and theologians I know and respect. I know I seem to disdain virtue, or using Christ as an example, and things like that. I don't care about progressive sanctification or moral improvement. I just end up boiling the law down to go love your neighbor and don't want to hear anything abstracted about improvement.
It's annoying. Where's the checking, where's the measuring, where's the stats to see that my holy batting average has improved and that my righteous slugging percentage has gone up, showing that I hit more holy doubles? Where is your growth? Why aren't you looking there?
I can't. I just can't look there... because it would be all too easy to see plenty of places where I am, by the world's standards, better than so many other people. There - I said it. There, my pride is revealed. You want to take the Pepsi challenge with me and pit your virtue against mine - bring it on. And then, when I have humiliated you by showing my superiority to you in thought, word, and deed (selectively, of course), when I have demonstrated that I am more virtuous and more intelligent and more devoted than you (shoot, as but a child I got my wayward father to return to church!), I will look upon your tattered remnants of my opponents shattered upon their own misplaced ego and say, "I thank You God, that I am not like this wretch here!"
And then I would walk away unjustified. Stuck in my own righteousness, my own strength, my own play acting thinking that I am like Jesus now.
No. Rather, let me disdain myself, my works, my strength, my virtue, my growth. Let them all be skubula. Let them be the filthy rags that they are - fit only to be flushed down the toilet and not spoken of in polite company.
God, be merciful to me a sinner. God, in Your mercy keep this ever my prayer. Create in me a clean heart, renew a right Spirit in me. Open my lips, that I show forth Thy praise.
And fill me not with disdain for my neighbor, even as I wonder how anyone who has read the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector would even dare to want to think about or look at their growth in virtue or holiness.
God be merciful to me, a sinner!
And if anyone tries to praise me, let me ever say I am but an unworthy servant.