Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Spiritual Arrogance?

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector.  -- Luke 18:9

One of the great temptations (and hazards) is to trust in your own assessment of your righteousness.  The majority of "God-fearing" people probably do carry at least a bit of certainty they are "doing it right."  Whatever "it" is.  If you are one of these people and you have a lot of material possessions, have a picturesque family, and enjoy a good reputation, the temptation to feel "better than" is almost overwhelming.  Everything going "right" in your life seems to be a testimony to just how much God is smiling on your goodness.  Also, we live in a society that measures our value by what we drive, what we wear, where we live, and where we work.  And so, we see someone or hear a hard luck tale of someone down and out and we might, at best, feel pity toward them; at worst we might feel contempt.  "If you only believed like I do, worked like I do, lived like I do, then you would not be in this pickle," we might secretly think or even boldly state.

Jesus' parable is about this temptation and sin of trusting in our own power to be righteous and manage our lives righteously.  The interesting part of the parable is that the temptation and sin of spiritual arrogance is revealed through worship and prayer.  It is in the style of prayer that spiritual haughtiness is reveled. If you're finding satisfaction in your spiritual journey by comparing yourself to another, you are missing the mark.  If you are pridefully boasting in your prayers of what you've accomplished, you are missing the truth.  If you are praising your successes, of what you've done, you're off track and in the swamp.  The truth is we can do nothing but what God empowers us to do.  The safer and more noble stance is always to lean on humility, and remember the One who gives you life, breath, and sustenance daily.

I thank you God for making me me.  Might I remember always that I'm your child and can only do all that I do by Your strength which sustains me.  Amen.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What is the difference between arrogance and pride?  Is one more positive than the other?
  2.  On a scale of 1-10, where would you rank your level of humility?
  3. What type of work ethic do you have?  Do you work because of the rewards you receive?  Do you work for the joy of the job?  Is one's work ethic tied to their spirituality or faith?  Is yours?