Luke 18:9-14 The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other menâ€”robbers, evildoers, adulterersâ€”or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Interesting parable, this is… and it hit pretty close to home this week, as I was discussing the discipleship website I’m building with a friend of mine.
One of the issues with internet evangelism, is that things can take a real header in a hurry, if brothers and sisters in Christ start arguing with one another over righteousness, when a seeker asks an honest question. Usually the underlying issue is one of judgementalism… so the question was, how can this best be constrained. And then the discussion morphed a bit, and it was, thank goodness we see eye to eye, and we aren’t judgemental like those other folks. (light bulb moment) Yep, as soon as the second part of that sentence was stated it was like egads, we’re not being humble at all here, and are sharing the same sin, as those who would exalt themselves over others.
I think its fine to thank God for wisdom, insight, even righteous living etc. We are blessed to be granted the privilege of studying His word, edification, and Church. These are all good and proper things. Where the line crosses, is when we add in comparison factors and become cocky. Not everyone is at the same place, or has the same understanding, some more so, some less so. However, I do think we should be thankful for what God has granted us, we should not however, elevate ourselves or make comparisons. Certainly, a teacher is under greater judgement than a student, yet, the teacher should feel fine to thank God, for those who have taught him or her, but not condemn a student in the same sentence. It comes down to the last verse.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted
Often times, good teachers, will use experience the humbling experience of role reversal. Ie, the student brings things to light, not previously considered by the teacher. This, the roles are reversed. That is another cause for thanksgiving.
The problem is ultimately exhaltation of oneself over another. The proactive solution, humility.