When I was younger, I always struggled with comparing my actions to others. I saw other Christian girls sinning in areas I wasn’t and I automatically thought I was a better Christian. However, by the grace of God, I learned I was sinning just as much, but in different aspects in my life; and it made me take a good look at myself and the pride I carried.
Does that sound like you at all during your life? Do you judge others where they sin? Do you constantly say in your mind ‘I’m the better Christian’?
In the Bible, we learn about a group of people who constantly judged others for the areas they sinned and thought they were spiritual, yet they were far from God. These people were called the Pharisees.
Let’s look at Luke, chapter 18:
“He also told this parable of some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “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 the other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like that 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.” (Luke 18:9-14)
There are a few things I want to highlight in this verse:
Pharisees are going to compare themselves to others
The Pharisee went and prayed, “thank you God that I am not a sinner like everyone else”, yet they had hearts far from God and were spiritually unnourished. Pharisee-like people are always going to see and point out sins of others but never their own.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
We must look at our own sins before we point out the sins of others.
Pharisees believe you are saved by what you do
The Pharisee went and prayed “I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, I don’t commit adultery… I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.” They thought they were saved because they were following all the commandments, but spiritually, they didn’t have the heart.
Does that ever sound like you? “I read my Bible, I prayed today, I went to church this week.” That can sound like me and I think if you’re honest, this probably sounds like you at times.
Pharisee-like people assume if they follow the commandments, they are a better Christian. But God doesn’t look at that, God looks at the heart. Reading your Bible is good. Praying every day is good. Going to Church every Sunday is good. But you don’t do those things to be considered a Christian, you do them in response to being a Christian.
We need to stop being like the Pharisee who prayed, “Thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else.” Instead, we need to pray like the tax collector “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.”
We all fall short of God’s glory.