I'm Not As Bad As He Is...
Consider a case where an officer pulls someone over for speeding. He then approaches the stopped car, and the driver responds by saying, “I know that I was going over the speed limit, but I have probably been passed by three hundred cars in just the last thirty minutes.” He then may ask, “What about all of those cars?” “Why did you stop me?” The officer may respond sarcastically by saying, “Well, I guess it was just your lucky day,” or he may say more seriously, “I can’t stop everybody.” The fact is, it does not matter how fast other cars are going; we are still not justified in breaking the law.
Spiritually, people often have the same attitude as the driver. They engage in sinful activities and then try to justify themselves by the practices of others. A person may say, “I know I do some things which are not right, but I am not as bad as a lot of people.” Is this a legitimate excuse?
Romans 1 and 2 present a picture of the condition of the Jews and Gentiles. In chapter one, the Gentiles are depicted as very immoral (vs. 26-32), and they were also idolaters (vs. 21-23). The Jews who read this letter may have heartedly commended Paul’s criticism of the Gentiles. Generally, the Jews were not idolaters and probably did not engage in sin to the same extent as the Gentiles. Yet, Paul tells them that they were “inexcusable” and in danger of the judgment of God. It is vital to understand that both groups were wrong and needed to repent (3:23, 6:23).
Recall also the case of Peter denying the Lord (three times) after His arrest (Mt. 26:69-75). After the third time, the Scriptures say Peter went out and wept bitterly. Peter was ashamed of what he had done, but he might have reacted differently. He might have defended himself by saying, “At least I wasn’t one of the people who crucified Him,” or, “I wasn’t like most of my fellow Jews who did not believe Jesus to be the Son of God.” He also could have asked, “Where are the other Apostles; at least I was there?” Any attempts of this nature that Peter might have made would have been useless. The fact that he may have been “better than others” would not have justified his sin.
Earlier, some chief rulers believed that Jesus was the Son of God but would not confess Him for fear of being put out of the synagogue (Jn. 12:42-43). They might have attempted to justify themselves by saying, “At least we did believe on Him — most of the chief rulers did not.” No, in spite of what others might have done, they were still just as wrong (Mt. 10:32-33).
Some people today try to justify neglect by saying they are better than some in the church, or there are hypocrites in the church. It may be that the one who makes this defense is right. He may be better morally than some who attend services, and there may be some members who are hypocrites. However, the person who attempts to justify himself in this way is still just as lost.
Consider the following situation. The Bible tells us that we are to give as we have been prospered on the first day of the week, and it also points out that God loves a cheerful giver (1 Cor. 16:1-2, 2 Cor. 9:7). Some try to defend inadequate giving by comparing themselves to others. These people may point out that they contribute more than another person. The other person, however, may not have prospered as much, but even if the other person’s giving is insufficient, that person is not the standard.
On the highway, someone else will almost always be going faster than we are. The law, however, does not look at this as an excuse for speeding. Spiritually, there will invariably be someone committing more sins than we commit or someone who is sinning to a greater extent. Yet, we are not justified in our wrong; the Bible is our standard, and the standard is not what other people do.