Joshua 15:1-12; Luke 18:9-17; Psalms 86:1-7; Proverbs 20:13-15
NT: “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people — greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner! ’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”” (Luke 18:9-14 CSB)
One of the effects of self-righteousness is it causes blindness and delusion. Self-righteousness blinds you to your shortcomings and sin, and it deludes you into thinking you are right and everyone or everything that is not like you is wrong. The Pharisees were deluded by their self-righteousness to think that they were the righteous ones and that Jesus was a sinner because they were blinded to their sin and shortcomings. The antidote to the poison of self-righteousness is humility. Humility isn’t demeaning yourself into nothingness. Humility is thinking rightly and accurately about yourself. Trusting in yourself – trusting in your understanding, your viewpoint, your actions, etc. leads to self-righteousness… which then leads to blindness and delusion. Humility reverses the course (and the curse). When you humble yourself, you see your shortcomings, your weaknesses, your limited perspective, your inability to see and know everything, etc. You are then able to submit to One greater than you and receive His strength, understanding, perspective, and ability… which then leads you to truth and righteousness. The Pharisee in this parable walked away with nothing more than an inflated ego, emboldened in his self-righteousness. The humble and penitent tax collector, on the other hand, walked away justified and made righteous by God. One thing I have noticed about social media is that it enforces and edifies our self-righteousness. No matter what you believe, you can find scores of people who will agree with you (and demonize what you disagree with). You can unfriend or unfollow people who have opposing beliefs or perspectives. Your opinions are then bolstered by likes, forwards, and self-conformation. It is no wonder why we now have a society that is unmercifully hardened into their beliefs of what is right and wrong. One thing is true about humility. If you don’t humble yourself, eventually you will become humiliated… with a lot of collateral damage. Let’s humble ourselves and allow God to justify us and lead us into all truth.
Psalms: “Listen, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Protect my life, for I am faithful. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. Be gracious to me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant’s life, because I appeal to you, Lord. For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, abounding in faithful love to all who call on you. Lord, hear my prayer; listen to my cries for mercy. I call on you in the day of my distress, for you will answer me.” (Psalms 86:1-7 CSB)
David was the king of a nation. He was singled out from all other men in Israel and was anointed as God’s man. He was powerful and wealthy. He had the authority to enact whatever law or decree he wanted… yet David was a man who humbled himself time and time again. Were there times when he allowed his heart to get lifted up? Yes – but he quickly repented and humbled himself before the Lord. In this psalm, the King of the United Kingdom of Israel said, “I am poor and needy… my entire trust is in You, Lord… be gracious to me and save me.” It is because of his humility that David was regarded as a man after God’s own heart. David didn’t fortify his own self-righteousness. He humbled himself and pursued God and His righteousness. Oh, if the people of God would set aside their own banners… their own causes… their own sense of right and wrong, and would humbly place their faith and trust in the Lord… take up His banner… take up His Kingdom causes… pursue His righteousness… allow themselves to be filled with His understanding, love, and mercy – what would happen? I dare say it would change the world. Instead of pointing at others and saying, they need to humble themselves, let’s be like the penitent tax collector… let’s be like David and humble ourselves before the Lord and place our trust in Him.