Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Luke 18:10-14 -- On Humility and Comparison

"Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Luke 18:10-14

A good reminder for us today about humility.  It's really easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we are better than other people, measuring by so many things... weight, beauty, politics, religion, marital status, musical taste, where we live, color of skin, first language, literacy, grammatical ability, age, mental health, dental health, and so on.  Christ reminds us here that we shouldn't even be prideful about how well we live the gospel, because the whole idea of making ourselves feel better by comparison has serious flaws.  There are always going to be things that we're good at, but assuming that we're better than others limits our ability to learn from them about the things that *they* are better at.  And maybe they know things we don't, even about the things where we think that we're the best.  Sometimes that is hard to take, because we want to seem smart and for people to admire us.  Maybe a better idea, if we are in need of comparison, is to compare ourselves only to God.  He is the example that we need to emulate, and in that comparison we are always going to fall short.  Maybe that will help us remember to be more humble, and that we still have an awful lot to learn about probably even in the areas where we feel like we are doing the best.
Today, let's be like the publican rather than the Pharisee.  Let's recognize that we need God's help and mercy in our lives, and let's plead for it, rather than assuming we already have Heaven on preorder. :)  Let's humble ourselves, and work on helping others rather than just feeling superior to them.

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