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