Do Not Be Over-Righteous!

Grace Gems Imageby George Mylne

“Lessons for the Christian’s Daily Walk” 1859

“Do not be over-righteous!” Ecclesiastes 7:16

How can this be? Can any man be over-righteous?

When zeal oversteps discretion; when tasks are self-imposed; when religious forms are trusted in; when flesh is vainly mortified–all this is being over-righteous!

God’s people unwittingly fall into these very errors.

Prayer, as a task, persisted in–that we may think how long our prayers have been–this is a great mistake. It is wrong in principle, and practice too. Have you ever been more fretful after prayer, more worldly, more inclined to levity? The truth is this–you prayed too long; your mind was over-taxed; your soul responded to your weariness. The enemy rejoiced in your infirmity–you were “over-righteous.”

Or you have found refreshment in the house of worship. You have gone a second time, and found the same. You went again (three services, three sermons in a day!)–the third occasion undid the other two. Trying to have too much–you lost all. The wearied brain could not recall its former devotion; the jaded memory broke down–you were “over-righteous.”

It is often the same in reading Scripture. The mind is proud of its performances, and reads too much. To read each day so many chapters; in a short time to have gone the whole round of Scripture–rapidly to move from the Law, to History, to the Prophets, to the Gospel in the hurry–my friend, you are “over-righteous!” This is not the way to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Were you to spend a lifetime over a single Psalm, gaining daily refreshment to your soul–would be far better, than to scamper rapidly through the Word.

When household duties are neglected for the sake of devotional exercises–this, too, is being over-righteous.

The same is true when others are inconvenienced by our devotional exercises. The family waiting in the hall, the carriage at the door–while prayers are too lengthy. Is not this being “over-righteous?”

Prayer, meditation, and the Scriptures–how good they are! Yet there is a time for all things. If duties rise so thick, that you are hindered in your prayers–even this is better than prayer persisted in, and duties left undone! Beware, then, Christian friend, and do not be “over-righteous.”

by George Mylne

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