Wednesday, September 7, 2016
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:14 (NLT)
Two men went to worship; one was accepted, and one rejected. The one was a Pharisee, a very religious person, pillar of the community; the other was the town tax collector, certainly not the most religious (or popular) guy on the block.
Publicans (ancient tax collectors) were Jews, but they were unacceptable to their own people, because they worked for the Roman government taking an exorbitant tax (and even more) from their Jewish brothers. The Publican was a despised "Benedict Arnold!" The Pharisees were the respected religious leaders.
The story’s conclusion should have been a slam-dunk for the listeners; the religious guy wins, hands down! But Jesus’ punch-line pulled a switch; the tax collector is the one who winds-up right with God, and the church elder becomes the bad guy.
What gives here?
Notice, please, the stark difference in worship between a religious man, and a renegade; the renegade had humility, the religious man had an “I” Problem; he was full of pride.
A teenager once asked his mother what she got out of church. The teen knew his mother thought the sermons were often dull and the music uninspiring. And each time he asked her, she responded, "I don't know. I just feel better all week when I've been to church on Sunday."
Why did the mother feel better for having been to church? When she was in church, she did not have to be the caring mother, the dutiful wife, the responsible neighbor - she could just be. She did not have to do anything. Somebody else was in charge. Somebody else was taking care of her.[ii]
Genuine humility rests in the care of God; it understands that we are inadequate to save ourselves, or to make ourselves fit company for being in the presence of God. Persons with genuine humility come into worship with that understanding, and they find genuine acceptance at the hand of God. When they leave, of course they feel better – they feel, and know forgiveness.
So, if you have a tendency to be a Pharisee; you’ve been a good boy, or a good girl all your life, this would be a good time to have an “I” check.
1. How do you feel about the “bad” people?
2. Have you asked for mercy recently?
If you don’t like the answers you heard in your own heart, you can change positions…you can leave the confident stand of the Pharisee and take up the humble stance of the Publican.
1. You stand in humility before God.
2. You pray in humility, asking for mercy for your sins.
3. You receive His love and welcoming embrace.
THAT’s how to put an end to the “I” problem!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!
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[ii] Franklin Ishida