Everybody knows that guy. You know, the person that you just don’t hang out with. The kind of guy that has a different set of moral standards than you. He’s a little weird with his world views and outspoken opinion. Did you see what he had the audacity to post online yesterday? Where does he get off dressing like that? Why can’t he just get a grip and quit thinking that way? I might like him better if he would just be me more like me!
Really we could be talking about a man or woman. Doesn’t matter how much a person claims to be open-minded we all know “that guy”. That one person that you just don’t like. The problem is we are judgmental beings. Let’s look at two different guys in the Bible.
Luke 18:9-14 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
This is that guy you would expect to be at church every Sunday. He knows scripture, is fluent in the customs and traditions of church service. This guy would never even consider stopping with the boys after work and having a couple of beers. In his mind it’s justifiable to look down on others. After all, other people live in a dark, dirty world that is unfit for the presence of a righteous man!
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
This guy is comfortable in his dark, dirty world where profanity is common vocabulary. The world this guy lives in has a set of standards that are dictated by social acceptance rather than moral absolutes. This guy doesn’t know how to sing worship songs and is very uncomfortable when the offering plate is passed in front of him. Just the fact he is in church at all is a small miracle. In his mind others judge him because he is not “religious” enough. But this guy knows he is a sinner in need of forgiveness.
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Some days I am the Pharisee and sometimes the tax collector. I can push people away with my self-proclaimed righteous behavior. It is easy to judge others by their actions, clothing, speech, or a variety of other things. But sometimes the mirror is not so foggy and I can see the filthy wreck of a man I am. What a blessing it would be if I was that guy who always understood how God views him!
Rev. Burt Schwab