I like to be right. I will argue my point. I will stand my ground. In my house, all of us like to be right, and take great pleasure in proving someone else wrong. The family banter is fun, but insisting on being right can become hurtful. When I insist on being right, I can damage a relationship. I need to acknowledge the Pharisee in me.
9-12 He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (Luke 18: 9-14 MSG).
This attitude is all over social media, political parties on both sides, and religious folk of all denominations. We think our view is right, and everyone who doesn’t agree with us is out. Being right reigns over relationship. The problem is people are being hurt. Relationships have been broken. This calls me to look deeply at the Pharisee in me.
Brian Mclaren, in his book Generous Orthodoxy, describes 8 different versions of Jesus and the Gospel depending on our religious view. It reminds me how none of them are wrong, but none of them are fully right. Jesus calls us to build relationships. He calls us into conversation with each other. He invites us to learn from each other. We are called into a life of generosity. We are called to see the best in each other. We are challenged to give the benefit of the doubt to others.
I am called to examine the Pharisee in me. I need to look closely at how I judge others because I do judge others. I need to pause when I have an abrupt reaction to posts on social media. I need to give the benefit of the doubt when words sound offensive. I need to ask questions first. I need to approach with curiosity and generosity. I will be richer for it and hopefully, others will too.
Do you have some Pharisee in you? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.