I’ve come across mentions of the Prodigal Son multiple times lately so I felt the nudge to get into the book of Luke. Most of us know that parable pretty well & heard it told to us as children. So I was eager to read it again & read it with fresh eyes. But when I came to the section of Luke with the parables, I read through several of them including one in Luke Chapter 18 known as The Pharisee & the Tax Collector. Do you know the one? I hadn’t read it before & I felt myself eating a piece of humble pie after reading it.
Rewind to last week in my personal life: I’ve been at odds with a family member that I’m very close to. I’m not sure if she’s even aware that I’m struggling with our relationship because no matter what I say to her, she has something to say back. She’s been incredibly judgmental of every single thing I do in my life from my haircuts to what I’m eating. I can’t keep up with all the things that she claims she knows better. It’s exhausting. After a phone call with her, I feel like my metaphorical bucket of confidence & grip on life has been emptied. She just dumps it all out & I feel defeated, frustrated, sometimes angry, & sometimes depressed. I’m just left standing there with a proverbial empty bucket & soaking wet shoes. Nobody likes wet shoes.
One of the things that frustrates me MOST about this dynamic is that she doesn’t exactly have her life together while she goes on judging mine. I won’t go into the details of her life because a) it’s not my place & b) that’s not the point of this tangent. But it just seems unfair for her to pick apart MY life, when I could just as easily offer a whole list of things she needs to fix before casting stones. I think to myself “Good for me for being able to hold my tongue & not tear someone else down. At least I’m not judgmental & have parts of my life together that she doesn’t.”
Back to the parable! In this story Jesus tells, we find a Pharisee & a tax collector praying in a temple.
“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 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 18:11-14).
My inner monologue about being better than the member of my family is in the same vein as the one of the Pharisee. Just because I don’t say things out loud for others to hear, doesn’t mean that the Lord doesn’t hear them. He hears me exalting myself over another. I have room to grow in humility. And even though I’m not saying it out loud, I’m still judging her life. That’s not mine to do. That judgement belongs to God alone. Let them hash it out.
Truth is, other people have their own stuff going on. Just because she says something to me or about me, doesn’t make it true. Others aren’t always right about your life. You have to square yourself with the Almighty & humble yourself to Him. Do your best to stay on the path He has for you & trust that the rest will follow. Don’t judge others as tempting & easy as it is, & at the same time know that their judgement of you isn’t the final word. I’m not saying I’ll never judge another person again. It’s a bad habit that becomes a reflex. But we can recognize it & turn to Luke for a little slice of Parable Pie.
additional supplies: Handmade Modern satin acrylic paint in Oxford Blue | American Crafts Remarks alpha stickers by Amy Tangerine in “Skip” | fun foam
Thank you not only for the beautiful page you did but for reminding me of this parable! When I started to read your story my thoughts were “I could have written the same thing about a family member”. I may not say the words out loud, but I am just as guilty by thinking them and just as judgmental. How humbling this was but much needed. Thank you!!!
@karen-laston It’s hard. And even though this person is older than me & has what SHE thinks is my best interest in mind, it makes conversations with her very draining. For the past 4 or 5 days, I have distanced myself from her. Not COMPLETELY, & I’m not icing her out, but just waiting on her to call ME instead of pursuing conversations that will just leaving me feeling bad. Choosing through Christ not to engage has been helpful. The change in my mood in these last 4 days has been drastic. Just leaving the judgement to Him is such a weight off & has been incredibly freeing! (But it does take effort & mindfulness!)
I feel for you, Elaine. My experience with people like that is that they judge others and admonish them because it’s easier than looking at their own lives and what they need to improve. Like, “let me show you what you need to change, so I can avoid talking or even thinking about what I need to change.” Some people are really totally self-UN-aware that they truly can’t see how there exists a whole list of things they could be working on! My father complains about my sister’s house being messy and falling apart when his is the exact same way!! He totally doesn’t see what he needs to work on in his own life because he’s so busy focusing on her life! I bet it’s the same way for your family member. You are right–you only need to focus on pleasing God. That’s all that matters in the end. Hugs, Amy (kittywittycreates from IG). :)