Friday, January 17, 2014
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. (Luke 18:11 KJV)
I read two things on Facebook this morning that brought this verse to mind. It concerns me when any Christian writes/speaks of the errors of another Christian’s beliefs as a defense for their own. Yet, I’ve done it and I’ve seen people I admire do it – and, it’s wrong.
This story from Luke is the best example I have in understanding why.
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon 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 every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14 KJV)
Did you get the point? Let me repeat it: And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others
Have you done that – trusted that you were righteous and ignored / laughed at / derided / despised another who also stated they loved and served the same Lord and Savior? I have. I’ve said, “Why do they believe that?” even when they quote I verse I know – and understand our interpretation of a word differs. Shouldn’t we remember what John was inspired to say about this:
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (1 John 3:14 KJV)
Are our brethren in Christ only those in our own congregation? Denomination? Will there be differences? Absolutely. Paul had his differences with Peter, explained the situation in Galatians 2:11+ and included why it was a problem:
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16 KJV)
I am responsible for my own sins, no one else’s. I am responsible for understanding God’s word through Bible study and prayer. Based on Matthew 28:19-20, I’m responsible for sharing what I’ve learned. From God’s word, I have not learned to defend my beliefs by denigrating another’s. Instead, I’m told:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. (1 Peter 3:15-16 KJV)
May I always be prepared to answer a question regarding my actions or my belief’s with God’s word and never use another’s actions or beliefs as an excuse. May I remember the publican:
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. (Luke 18:13 KJV)