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.
We can’t judge ourselves by the standard of other sinful men. Our righteousness does not come from not committing the sins that others around us may commit. We are not justified because we’ve determined ourselves to be better than other people. Comparing ourselves to other people doesn’t tell us anything about how we compare to God, and we should only judge ourselves by the standard of His holiness. This kind of prideful attitude only drives us farther and farther from God.
But not only does this Pharisee think he is better than those around him, he thinks that his actions prove his own greatness. He comes with an attitude that his fasting and tithing make him someone special, someone, perhaps, to be looked up to and honored. He fails to mention those other things he’s done that perhaps weren’t as noble as these. He doesn’t mention the heart behind these actions and whether he was doing those things just for the show of it, to appear to be something more than what he really was.
Let’s not have this “at least I’m not like them” attitude. We like to compare ourselves to other people at times because it may make us feel superior or better about ourselves. But God never compares us with other people, and so neither should we. Instead, we should examine our hearts to see what kinds of things are there so we can bring them before the Lord and seek His mercy and help. We should remember that it’s not what we’ve done, but what Christ has done for us, that matters most.
Sometimes it’s all too easy for us to look down on other people. We want to feel good and feel good about ourselves, and sometimes the best way to do that is to judge ourselves somehow superior to someone else. But the best cure for pride is to take our eyes off of ourselves and off of the other people around us and look up at God and glance into His righteousness and see His holiness and perfection. And with this new perspective, we’ll understand that nothing about who we are or what we’ve done matters at all. So let’s set these judgmental attitudes aside and let God be the only judge of us and everyone else.