9 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.’
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.’
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.”
In the world in which we live it appears at times that most, if not all of us, have been conditioned to make our evaluations and decisions within our relationships on what we can observe as individual accomplishments or not and how we can benefit from the connection. What I mean to say is that I believe that often times without even realizing it, we seek and value self-sustaining reciprocal relationships because it seems so much fairer than the alternative. If I invite you to my house, if I send you a thank you card, if I reach out in some unexpected thoughtful way should you not be expected to do the same? And even if this turns out to be our experience can we begin to find solace in beating our own chest before God in comparison to those around us?
As we go about our daily lives Jesus challenges us to consider something, one thing truly radical and different from this worldview. In the end God cares only about the condition of our Hearts and the very best conditioner is to fill ourselves with a sense of gratitude. This is the wonder of Thanksgiving as a correctly motivated expression. It is so powerful because it makes what was once hard, soft!
The challenge for Jesus’ followers (the church) then and now has never been about sustainability, or how many buildings we can build or how many numbers we can point to that suggests we are succeeding or even a track record on how well we follow whatever precepts and principles that we develop from the “Law” to live our daily lives by. Rather it has been and always will be about the condition of the inner most sense of who we believe ourselves to be before God. Are we thankful for His presence in our lives and can this sense of gratitude be the sole motivator for everything we do in His name?
Can we take a deep look at our insecurities in a culture and a context which rarely suggests it is a positive thing to do? Jesus teaches that if we are willing to take that risk then we will truly begin to understand the “Amazing Grace” in which we stand and once there, there will be no turning back!
May the Spirit of God’s grace be with you during this season of thanks!
Serving together, pC