Updated: Mar 18, 2019
A call to check your heart.
Animosity, Resentment, Jealousy, Selfishness, Rage, Superiority, Malice, Contempt, Judgement, Pride...
These are all the equivalent to a life-threatening cancer that slowly destroys the peace, joy, hope and Love which should reside in and flow from our hearts. Thus, we should all proactively seek to identify and cure the diseases that plague our hearts and consume our thoughts resulting in poor decisions and irrational behavior. Unfortunately, the heart is so deceitful that it is a master of hiding impurities. However, we can discover revelations of what is hidden; but, we must constantly pray and feed our souls with the word of God in order to see our own evils.
In Luke chapter 18 verses 9-14, Jesus teaches a parable about The Pharisee and The Tax Collector. This particular story is one that I use as a means to self-reflect and scrutinize my own heart. It is a great example of how we can confuse what is most important by placing value on acts or actions in a vain attempt to appear important to man; rather than, developing a relationship with God and spending time with him in true worship. We must be careful to remember that God knows our heart's, our thoughts, and our motives. He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Therefore, he has already provided the solution that conquers all sin. The remedy is Jesus. Self-righteousness and judgment is not a character trait that is pleasing God.
The parable reads:
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“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.’ “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.” — Luke 18:9-14
What are the fruits of the spirit? There is a total of nine traits or characteristics identified by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. They consist of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” He warns all of the dangers that will occur when operating in a carnal mind.
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." — Galatians 5:19-21
Periodically, we must completely remove ourselves from all distractions that place a strain on our ability to seek the kingdom of God. Beware, the sins of the heart are so subtle that if we are not cautious, we will walk blindly in them daily not realizing we are the Pharisee. Today, review your thoughts; then, ask yourself: which am I, the pharisee or the tax collector?
Finally, remember: it is humility and not superiority that is key.