Human nature causes us to compare our strengths with the weaknesses of others. Taken to an extreme, we look at others with contempt. Jesus tells this parable...
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself : 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people : swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week ; I pay tithes of all that I get.' "But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner !' " (Luke 18:9-14)
The Pharisee listed his external qualifications of righteousness to God. His outside behavior was what he felt made him righteous. There was nothing said about his heart. The bible doesn’t mandate that we fast twice a week. He added that in. If he was all that righteous, why did he need to tell God that?
The Pharisee was also guilty of separatism. He prayed by himself and about himself. He stood physically removed from others, not near the tax collector whom he was judging. He thought he was his own savior, “If I do good on the outside, God will accept me.”
The Tax Collector prayed in humility; knew he needed a savior.
Deep down we all want to be deemed righteous (approved, accepted). This problem has two solutions: Outside-in and inside-out. Our heart must first be changed if we are to see change in our outward behavior. What we believe directs our actions.
Be wary of any outside-in stuff in our walk. Love one-another.
Mark S. Disbrow is pastor of Amazing Grace Community Church in Aspen Springs.