He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat 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 who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.’” (Lk 18: 9-14)

It’s tempting, sometimes, to compare myself to other people. I can do that as the Pharisee does here, seeing myself as “better off” than others. Or I can do that otherwise, seeing myself as “worse off” than others. But neither of these comparisons are relevant to my own, unique journey and God-given vocation, which includes my own, unique set of gifts and shortcomings. Only God knows the full truth about all of these gifts and shortcomings, and can assess that picture in His perfect judgment. That is why the Lord warns me here, not to be like “those who trust in themselves” to pass judgment.

So today let me humble myself before God’s perfect judgment, leaving it to Him. It is not mine to “exalt myself” as a self-appointed judge, giving either myself or others a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. Because I lack the information to make that call. I am in need of God’s judgment, characterized by His “mercy.” For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted, in God's abundant mercy.

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