Yesterday my ears had the unusual treatment of being subjected to an argument between two neighbours in their back garden. It was a man against another woman who were shouting back and forth through their fence obscenities at one another.
“I’m a good person. I’m better than you. What did you ever do? I used to employ people, pay my taxes and contribute towards society.” She pretty much yelled back something similar.
It got me thinking about the pharisaical world we live in where we view ourselves as better than the other. He stood before the Lord and said pretty much the same thing.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.Luke:18:12
Where does this desire to be better than the other come from? Original sin, the persons heart and their lack of moral judgment are all worthy answers. But one answer rarely given is their programming by society on how to behave.
We are conditioned by society from birth to view ourselves as better than the other. When both of us lack humility in an argument pride is exposed when someone insults us about how they’re better than us. All of a sudden our programming on how to react in such situations kicks in and we become aggressive. “I’m better than you”, “No I’m better than you” and you get this game of egotistical ping pong between two fully conditioned individuals. Blinded by our ignorance we both fall into a pit when engaging in this behavior.
We must learn to first accept that this behavior is a sickness before the cure can be sought and freely administered. Like the publican we need to learn how to stand before the Lord and admit our sickness. You see, the publican wasn’t perfect or better than the Pharisee.
Throughout the week he himself has committed many sins and allowed societies brainwashing on how to behave get the better of him. But what separated him from the Pharisee was the ability to stand before the Lord and admit his weakness. There he stood, laid bare his soul and asked for mercy and as a result made his peace with God. He may not have been perfect, but the simple awareness of his imperfection made him righteous in the sight of the Lord. In doing this he advanced spiritually which would have helped minimize his behavior. You see, getting rid of the brainwashing is never an overnight process and remains to be a struggle that can last a life time.
But those of us ignorant of our programming, our faults and sin cannot do this and it places us in a more precarious position of losing our souls. The brainwashing of self-esteem, self-love and the need to keep up with the rest of society being seen as an outstanding member of it requires a lot of effort to hang onto. We are taught that without it we can’t be happy.
Then we spend our whole lives trying to fulfil the conditions the world has placed upon us without ever realizing that these conditions enslave us. We are always anxious about having our nice little rich lifestyle removed from us aren’t we? We care about the good opinion of others and jump through great hoops to keep up that image in the community. We become so depressed and anxious lest we obtain it.
That’s not happiness, that’s slavery. You want to be a slave? No? Then stand before the Lord, admit your sin and start your journey towards liberation. Lets not be like the Pharisee who embraced the ball and chain and put himself on a pedestal above the rest. He lived the illusion that he was better than all the rest and it brought him whatever transitory comfort but in the end he had to face the reality of God when he departed this life.
Don’t let that be you, break free from the illusion of self-esteem presented to you by the world. Remove that ball and chain, beat your breast and say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Be merciful to me, the sinner.” Then when people insult you, they’ll only be beating themselves over the head with a stick because your understanding of what it means to be worthy among the community is gone now.
You see yourself as the least of all Gods creation and you’re happy and content about it. Not only that but your new self will become an inspiration to the one insulting you to seek out a new way of doing things. In this way, without even speaking, you evangelize the hearts of all Pharisees. Don’t view them as evil people, view them as sick people. Would you laugh at a man in a wheelchair, No? Then why laugh at someone sitting in the wheelchair of an illness he was born into? Help him, pray for him.
I will pray for my neighbours because I am more prideful than them, God knows this, I like to think I know this. We are all broken people and there but for the grace of God go I.