"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
It's easy to look at this passage and roll our eyes at the Pharisee. “What a self absorbed jerk!” We might think. His lack of humility is clearly visible. We then turn to the tax collector in this parable, nodding and agreeing. We’ve all had the Sunday school lesson- we know we too are sinners. We close our Bibles smiling, thankful that we aren't like those people.
What’s wrong with this picture?
I don't know about you, but I’ve done it. I've heard of the sins of others and silently judged them and/or felt proud of myself for being such a “good” Christian. I've inwardly smiled as I felt immune to certain temptations. But is this really what we are called to? Is this what “newness of life” looks like- focusing on what's wrong with the people around us while self-righteously thinking we’re doing relatively decent?
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"