Wednesday Word 10.30.2029
Luke 18:9-14 New International Version
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I 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 all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I have said it a hundred times: people need to believe they are good. We base our everyday actions and decisions on the belief that we are right in what we think and how we perceive. Sometimes in the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary. If we are going to learn, to grow as human beings, and especially as followers of Christ, it is imperative that we realize we aren’t! But it is okay that we aren’t because Jesus is!
I was introduced to C.S. Lewis early in my spiritual journey, nearly twenty years ago now. I am so grateful for that. Lewis wrote a great deal on this subject and in case I forget, I keep a quotation or two in handy places. We have to get rid of the notion that we are good enough, like this Pharisee. Lewis reminds us that pride is the ultimate downfall. We see it so quickly in others, like this Pharisee, but don’t see it in our own attitudes. In Mere Christianity, Lewis writes about people’s relationship with the God we cannot see, “They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound’s worth of Pride towards their fellow-men.” That self-satisfaction that we are doing it “right” is our downfall, especially if we adopt the horrible habit of comparing ourselves to others. Lewis goes on to offer advice, “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” This process of realizing our own misdirected pride, “…cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God,” Lewis wrote. I think that is a lesson for us all…something to pray about.
Your sister in Christ, Vicki