“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” (ESV)
Paul plays a mean trick on us here. He starts listing off sins that those evil people (whoever they happen to be) commit under the cover of darkness. And right from the start we’re tempted to cheer along with him. Down with those evil people engaging in orgies! Down with those drunks who are wrecking their lives and the lives of their families! Down with those sexually immoral perverts!
Our pitchforks and torches are certainly held high by now. We’re ready to go by mob, find these evil souls, and make them pay for their barbarity. But then he adds on two more categories. Down with those quarrelers and jealousy hounds! Yeah!…wait a minute. Now hold on here. I’ve quarreled with someone else at night (and during the day for that matter). Come to think of it, I’ve been jealous of someone else too.
*The mob quiets down and turns to face me, pitchforks and torches lowering a bit.*
Well, it was just that one time. And that other time. And, yeah, that one other time too. Okay, it was a lot of times. But at least I didn’t do any of those other things, right? I’ll bet you’ve done a thing or two as well.
*A couple of torches blink out and several pitchforks hit the ground.*
See! What was that Paul said a bit earlier in the letter. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? Yeah, that’s it. No one is righteous, no, not one? That too.
But at least I didn’t…oh…wait…I guess that was pretty bad too. So maybe we should just all pursue righteousness, encourage one another, hold each other accountable, and save the self-righteous condemnations for another time? Probably.
While all sin is not equal in its impact on us and the people around us, all sin is equally capable of separating us from God. Because of that, self-righteousness fails and fails miserably. Better is humble reliance on Christ to get us to God, and a humble love of the people around us as we seek to move in that direction together always remembering that for those folks who aren’t willing to walk that path and are continuing in sin regardless of its impact, but for the grace of God we’d be right there with them. Then, we endure with patience and love them back to the kingdom.