October 23, 2022
“All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 18:9-14
The Pharisee in today’s Gospel parable stands up in the temple to pray. He reminds God that he is not like other
people who fall short of God’s expectations. He recounts to God his best behaviors - fasting and tithing.
When I envision this scene, I can’t help but imagine the Pharisee’s voice sounding like songwriter Mac Davis singing his hit, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, When you’re perfect in every way; I can’t wait to look in the mirror, Cause I get better looking each day...”
Why is Jesus concerned about our level of humility even when our faithful actions are good? Certainly we should strive to be good, to give generously, and to avoid sin. Yet it is the sinful person in this story who Jesus sets as our example.
In the parable, the first person is giving a speech to God. The second person is opening up his heart, admitting his weakness, and asking for God’s merciful acceptance. He is humble enough to acknowledge that God is in control.
Such humility is a path toward a deeper, trusting relationship with God. Trusting God requires admitting that we need God. It means accepting that we are not so self-reliant that we can figure out all the answers, successfully battle every demon, and control our own destiny. Those are false narratives anyway. Humility keeps us honest.
Jesus’ time on earth exemplifies one of the most beautiful realities of our faith: Our Creator craves a close relationship with each of us. We don’t have to be perfect in every way. We just need to love and trust that what God provides will be more than enough.
Linda Buskirk is active in stewardship ministry for her faith community in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and works with congregations through Core Capital Campaigns.
Questions for Reflection:
Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a reflection of your relationship with God. How would you describe it?
How might generosity be connected to one’s trusting relationship with God?
In serving others we often find humility. How has service to others helped deepen your relationship with God?