2014-11-21 - The Purely Proud and the Humbly Pure
So far, we have seen that our attitude in prayer matters, and beyond that, our attitude in all our actions matter. Lastly, we will turn our attention to God's reaction to the very different prayers offered by the Pharisee and the publican. In verse 14, Jesus declares, "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." God paid no attention to the Pharisee's prayer; God forgave the publican.
That is the opposite of the world's thinking, which proclaims that you should toot your own horn and accentuate the positives. This can often be seen taken to an extreme, in creatively fluffing our resumes and college applications. Let's say your youth group went to a mission trip in Alabama. That could be padded as: traveled to a foreign land. After all, being a Georgia native, things are foreign in Alabama. Supervised construction because I took breaks whenever I felt like it and watched everyone else do the work. Oversaw crew of twelve, because I watched everyone eat their lunches, hoping they'd share it with me, since I forgot to bring my own.
A few years back, someone took credit for my work and got a promotion shortly thereafter. They then milked the company for a lot of training classes before leaving the company. I took over, but didn't get the title or raise. Eventually, I finally got the title. But it got to where I bragged on myself a lot - too much, in fact. In the years since then, I have made a deliberate effort to praise others and not myself. And since I started doing that, I have received better reviews. God's ways are better than man's.
In closing, God looks on the inside. It is attitude, not appearances or actions themselves, that matter. It's the thought that counts. Our actions only matter when we have the right attitude: honest, humble, and loving. The man who did everything to be super-religious ultimately lacked a relationship with God, but the man who lived terribly, but admitted his fault, was heard by God and was forgiven. There are two ways to go home - unchanged and proud of it, or unburdened and thankful for it. Which will you choose? God can look at you as a vision of beauty or a delusion of grandeur.
All scripture references are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.