Lent 28 (2012)–Horizontally Proud, Vertically Challenged

Luke 18:9 To 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. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men– 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 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

We’re climbing higher on Step 9 out of 15 in our Songs of Ascents, exploring The Blessed Fear which is fear of the Lord.  The pilgrims sang, “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways.” 

Remembering God is the One from Whom All Blessings Flow, a man could easily find many things for which to give thanks. 

“That I am not like other men” wouldn’t be one of them.

Some people can be so horizontally competitive in comparing righteousness and blessing, so proud in their self-assessment, that they can become nothing short of Vertically Challenged in relation to The Blessed Fear

The Pharisee in today’s parable was just that kind of guy.  Thoroughly pompous and self-aggrandizing, he stood up and prayed…about himself.   The tax collector, on the other hand, realized that the standard was not the Pharisee or any other man.  The standard was the One from Whom All Blessings Flow

Understanding the majesty of the One whose presence was in the temple, he couldn’t even look up.  All he could do was Cry Out, Have Mercy!  He knew he was a sinner.

Our being justified before God is God’s prerogative.   Whatever God says is what counts, not where we think we stand in relation to others.  With God as our standard, we need to have a holy, reverent, and Blessed Fear.  With God’s perfect standard in view, the tax collector knew he was a sinner, but the Pharisee was still busy surveying the religious landscape.  So proud of what a great and religious guy he was compared to everyone else, he never even noticed that he was seen by God as just like every other man: a sinner. 

It is possible to be so Horizontally Proud that one becomes Vertically Challenged indeed.

For further thought:

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any ways in which you’ve considered your standard to be your neighbor, or brother or sister in Christ.
  2. Read this and ponder God’s majesty today:  1 Chronicles 29: 10 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 24, 2012

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