There is something in us that longs for us be recognized as being good enough. People I think are wired to seek out significance, power, fame, and success. Every good story is about the journey of becoming good enough. The happy ending stories always are about the lead characters overcoming the odds and realizing that they are good enough, that they are worthy of our respect and praise. Tragedies always end with the realization of the character that they are not good enough, not strong enough, to make the grade. Life, we are taught, is about the struggle to be good enough.
There is a story about a young preacher who frequently talked with an old farmer who was a long time member at the young pastor’s church. One day the question under discussion was, “What is the greatest hindrance to spiritual growth and happiness?” The preacher said, “Surely it is failure to renounce our sinful self.”
“No,” said the farmer, “the greatest hindrance is failure to renounce our righteous self.”
It’s easy to see the badness of sin and it is not difficult to renounce it. It is much harder to see the badness of our righteousness and to not clothe ourselves in it. It is much harder in a world where the goal is to be good enough, to realize that no one is really good.