“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
1 Peter 5: 5b-6
Luke 18: 9-14
The parable of the Pharisee and Tax collector. Well known, and I am guessing we all hope to see ourselves more in the tax collector than the Pharisee. Dean Martyn Percy retells this parable in the following way, “Two fine folk went to church to pray; one was a conservative, and the other a liberal. The conservative went to the front of the church, knelt down, and prayed thus: ‘I thank thee Lord that thou hast not made me like this liberal at the back of church – weak on doctrine, weedy morals, watered-down creeds and wishy-washy ideas, with compromised convictions …’ But the liberal stood at the back, reflecting coolly on the irony of the situation. And prayed thus: ‘Lord, keep me open to the ideas of others – even though they are probably wrong.’ ‘I tell you’, said Jesus, ‘neither of these fine folk went home justified.’”
I do not like labels because we each carry our own interpretation of what they mean. Our understanding is then attached to people whether or not there is merit in our judgement. Is there not an element of prejudice in this behaviour? In this parable Jesus is calling us to all recognise our absolute need of God. None of us are without fault (Romans 3: 23) nor comprehend, know and own the whole truth. Jesus alone is the truth (John 14: 6) and we need to entrust ourselves to Him and move away from judging others. Surely if we take part in the latter, we leave ourselves open to that same judgement. Humility is the name of the game here. This humility (that we discussed on Monday) enables the Father God to open His arms of welcome to us, it paves the way through repentance for the forgiveness that we considered on Wednesday. It helps us see others as being made in God’s image and promotes the realisation that we need one another. If we listen to our neighbour in God’s presence and grace His truth will be revealed.
May we all, along with the fictional tax collector, humbly bend a knee before Almighty God and display that same humility towards others (1 Peter 5: 5b-6). This attitude helps us to be in Christ where we ourselves then live in the Holy Spirit without condemnation (this our focus on Sunday at 9.30am). Charles Wesley sums these truths up wonderfully in today’s hymn, ‘And Can it be.’ Here we sing of God’s amazing love that brings freedom from condemnation and enables us to boldly approach His throne. A throne founded on righteousness and justice with love and faithfulness before it (psalm 89: 14).
To Ponder: Consider a trait, personality, principle or person that you disagree with or do not like. Humbly give this to God and seek His truth on this subject through prayer and in His Word. What impact does your humility and God’s truth have upon your view; is God calling you to do anything with His revelations?
Prayer: Gracious Father, by the humble obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world. Enable us to imitate His humility and thereby draw us into harmony with your will and one another that we may find all things restored in Him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
Praise: And Can it be
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