Holier Than Thou

These are the words of Jesus as spoken in Luke 18:9-14 (ERV):  “There were some people who thought they were very good and looked down on everyone else. Jesus used this story to teach them: ‘One time there was a Pharisee and a tax collector. One day they both went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee stood alone, away from the tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not as bad as other people. I am not like men who steal, cheat, or commit adultery. I thank you that I am better than this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of everything I get!’  The tax collector stood alone too. But when he prayed, he would not even look up to heaven. He felt very humble before God. He said, ‘O God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner!’ I tell you, when this man finished his prayer and went home, he was right with God. But the Pharisee, who felt that he was better than others, was not right with God. People who make themselves important will be made humble. But those who make themselves humble will be made important.’”

A few days ago there were two of my daily readings that were based on the above verses.  The author of my devotional book, Chris Tiegreen, said this:  

“Of all the sins known to man – quite a long list – the one condemned most emphatically in the Bible is pride.  ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ both Proverbs and James say.  

pridedenies that sin is a problem; it exalts self and self-effort; it denies a need for God and refuses His help; it attributes its accomplishments to human ability rather than God’s gifts; and it completely undermines God’s efforts to display His grace in the world.

Humility is based on truth.”

These readings caused me to think about how many times I must have grieved God with my own personal pride.  It is so very easy to allow the praise of others, awards, rewards, etc. to inflate our egos.  We allow ourselves to think about how hard we worked and  how committed we were, then justify how we deserve all of the accolades.  With that attitude, we are one little step away from thinking how much better we are than the others that did not achieve what we were able to do.  Arrogance can ease in before we know it and we develop that “holier than thou” attitude – that pride that really is a danger to our soul.  

We have likely all known someone at some point in time that was SO arrogant and full of themselves that we could not stand to even be around them.  They definitely had that “Pharisee Syndrome” going on – that pride that let them lie to themselves about their self-worth.  I do not want to be that person.

What we need to always be mindful of is how we were gifted all of our abilities by God.  I personally believe that we are each born with God-given talents that are just waiting for us to discover and develop them.  I have known some people that had such outstanding abilities that I marveled at how easy they made things seem – things that I could probably never accomplish.  At times that can cause you to feel somewhat inferior.  But the fact is, I likely have some ability that allows me to accomplish something much easier  and with more success than they could ever do.  We are equally blessed by God but with different abilities.  

But I also believe that another God-given “talent” is desire – a desire to learn and do things that maybe do not come so naturally.  Things that we can do very well, but we have to work really hard at it to succeed.  We have that desire to see things through to success.  We should never sell ourselves short thinking that there are things impossible for us.  All it takes is determination and a reliance on God to help see us through successfully.  

Humility – knowing the truth about all of our accomplishments – is key to true success.

Peter states in 1 Peter 5:4-6 (MSG):  “When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people.  So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time.”

I think that I would much rather be viewed as “just plain people” so that God can promote me when the time is right.  The rewards that God can and will give us are light years ahead of anything that people can heap on us.  But the key to it is humility and never believing that you are holier than thou.

Written by Karran Martin – May 13, 2022  

3 thoughts on “Holier Than Thou

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