WITH DISGUST ON MY FACE
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat 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 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
I’ve been struggling for a few days with this story Jesus told. The parables of Jesus are turning out to be very challenging for me. There is so much to take in, understand contextually, and then apply. But the reason I’ve been particularly uncomfortable with this one is because it convicted me. God’s light shined immediately on the attitudes of my childhood home ~ so much so that I didn’t write for a few days.
I always thought this story was about one man who was humble and another man who was proud. But really, it was about the danger of one despising the other. Can’t you envision the sneer on the proud man’s face?
While I would characterize both my parents as generally humble, they had some proud moments. Whenever they encountered people not doing what they thought they should, disgust would arise and comments would be made.
- “Wouldn’t you think they would clean up their yard? It’s a junk pile!”
- “Wouldn’t you think they would discipline their children?”
- “Wouldn’t you think they would volunteer to help out more at church?”
I can think of many more examples but will stop there. I am struck by how often the word ‘disgust’ came out of their mouths and how often it can come out of mine. My posture toward sin, both mine and others, should be sadness, not disgust. Grieving over another’s sin leads me to pray for them. Disgust leads me to distance myself from them.
Pride is insidious and has so many faces. Just about the time you think it’s gone, you realize there can be pride over thinking it’s gone. What is the cure? When disgust arises, I ask Jesus to help me feel what he feels about the other person – and then to respond as He would. That may not erase things like righteous anger but it will lead to an attitude of ~ ‘There but the grace of God go I.’
Every time I think I should decide who gets mercy and who should be judged, convict me, O God. In Jesus’ name, Amen