9And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11“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.
12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
13“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!’
14“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
As I prepared for the Ash Wednesday service, here a few things that popped into my head as I read this passage for tonight’s reflection.
God doesn’t compare us to others.
In an attempt to be spiritual, I can become involved in the comparison game. What I have to remember is that I am not in competition with anyone trying to achieve some status that will please God. God is not in heaven measuring me up against anyone other than His Son. Practices like Lent exist to remind me of the love and sacrifice of Christ, not to prove my worthiness of His love or attention.
Spirituality is not something I obtain.
Attending church or sharing in practices like Lent do make me more “spiritual”. I partake in these things because I am spiritual and I have a need to connect with God. Spiritual disciplines and practices help me to become aware of my Creator and allow me to connect with Him, reviving my soul which in essence is “spiritual”. I don’t spiritual practices to learn to “breathe”; I do them to breathe deeply.
Doing all the right things doesn’t make me right.
In a world where being right is the epitome of success and satisfaction, this passage reminds me once again that I can be “right” do “good” and still come short of God’s glory. God is not happiest when I am right or better than another. God is happy when I delight myself in His great love for me believing that He loves me in spite of who I am. God is happy when one sinner repents and comes “home”. God is happy when one, even though sinful and wrong, looks to Him for forgiveness and reaches out to their Heavenly Father for a hug. I become the “right”eousness of God because of what Christ has done, not being right.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
How has God spoken to you about Ash Wednesday or thoughts on Lent?