The insidious power of self-justification

19 08 2008

[Jesus] spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)

Can’t you just picture the self-righteous pharisee, standing proudly in the temple courts – where everyone passing by would see him and admire his piety? The Bible says that he wasn’t even praying to God… he was praying to himself. Smug, smug, smug! I’ll bet he was wearing his long pharisee robe and carrying a big torah scroll with his initials engraved on the the cover. What a sad and pathetic spectacle! Lord, I sure am thankful that I’m not like that guy! … oh… wait a minute…

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