I can be a very judgmental person at times. I like people who think like me, have the same values as me and even look like me. I’m sure there are other ways I judge people, but let’s stop there before it gets ugly.
I’m not alone. We live in a society that does the same. Judgmental attitudes are all around us and we cannot escape them. These attitudes have created many divisions in our country.
Did you know that God gave us specific verses that speak into judgmental attitudes? I’m not talking about calling out the sin of a brother or sister in Christ. Rather, I am talking about how you and I place ourselves higher on a status scale and others lower (even at the bottom) on the same scale.
Luke 18:9-14 says, 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
As you read the text, it is important to note that Jesus is talking with people who trusted in their own righteous abilities. We could probably go no further and still have enough for God to work on. I am that guy and so are you.
As you move into the text, you could presume the two men praying close enough to be in one another’s sight. I can imagine the Pharisee making his prayer a big deal. I can imagine he would love for everybody to stop and listen to his words. I can see the arrogance and pride that drips from his prayer. This prayer honors self and never even considers to honor God.
God, thank you and I am not like the guy that entered the temple with me. Thank you that I am so much better than he is because I do all the right external practices. Thank you that I am everything I want to be. I am that guy and so are you.
After this self-centered prayer, we read about the tax collector’s prayer. His prayer is one that each of us should strive for. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” I imagine this guy is off in the corner so he isn’t a distraction to other people who are trying to meet with God. I imagine this guy considering himself unworthy to even speak to God. I imagine the tax collector praying for the Pharisee. We should be this guy; too often we are not.
As you go through your day and week, how are you like the Pharisee? The way we drive is a good indicator. When we drive offensively because our calendar is more important than everybody else’s calendar, we are being like the Pharisee. There are several other areas we cast “status judgment” on other people throughout our day. I will allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of those areas.
How could you make simple shifts to have an attitude like the tax collector? Proper placement on the status chart is very important. John 3:30 says, “He must increase and I must decrease.”
As your busy day continues, where have you placed yourself on the status chart versus where you have placed others? Where is Jesus on the status chart?
Please spend some time considering how often you are that guy.
You are loved!