God be merciful to me, for I am a sinner (Luke 18:13).
When we watch TV or engage in social media, we’re bombarded with images of individuals doing things we disagree with. Sometimes their actions are even illegal or immoral, and we may find ourselves thinking, I’d never do a thing like that! or, How can anyone even consider doing such a thing?
As believers in Jesus, we can easily fall into the trap of elevating ourselves above those whose lives and values don’t reflect biblical wisdom. It’s normal for us to compare ourselves with others, and we should disapprove of wrong behaviour. But if we compare our actions with those of others by focusing on their negative behaviour, we may end up elevating ourselves and doing what the Pharisee did in a parable Jesus told (Luke 18:9-10)—comparing ourselves to others in a self-righteous way.
The Pharisee “stood by himself” and rattled off a list of “sinners”: extortionists, unjust people, adulterers (Luke 18:11). Bemoaning their poor behaviour, he then celebrated his own actions: tithing, fasting, and—of course—praying in an attention-getting way (Luke 18:11-12).
Now look at the “despised tax collector” (Luke 18:10). He was so humbled that he “dared not lift his eyes to heaven.” Broken before God, all he could do was ask for mercy, admitting his own guilt (Luke 18:13).
The Pharisee looked at others’ faults to bolster his superiority; the tax collector, however, focused his heart and mind—his everything—on God.
As we fix our gaze on Jesus and His sacrifice for us, we’ll resist playing the game of judging others. It’s only by God’s grace that we’ve been forgiven of our sins.
This passage first appeared on http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/