I was listening to a message last night, and the preacher made a reference to Is 64:6 … all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;…
This verse is frequently used (correctly) when talking with someone about his soul. It is very clear that our best works are merely filthy rags to God.
I fear, though, that we may sometimes forget this verse after we are saved; somehow, some Christians seem to think that their good works are now a valuable treasure to God. They pray for a person, and tell God what great things that person has done. Or we expect answers to prayer because of some great work we have done. Not so – our best works, even after salvation are STILL filthy rags in God’s sight. He answers prayer because He is good and He chooses to do so, not because we’ve impressed Him with our works.
To avoid misunderstanding, I should go on to say that the Scripture is VERY clear that we ARE to do good works after we are saved (Eph 2:10 and many other passages). These works are for the purpose of bringing glory to God (Matt 5). But we should not consider someone closer to God because of his works, or that because he has done great things, God will answer his prayer more than yours.
Also, I should say that I am not saying that we should not recognize achievements. By all means, honor a pastor who has been with a church on his various anniversaries – the longer he has been there, the rarer it is, and the more honor (honor to whom honor is due) he should receive from us… just don’t think that his works have made him more important to God.
Filthy rags: true of the works of saved people, too.