Italian drivers seem crazy to me. They drive too fast, often disobeying even the most basic traffic signs, they seem to have some unwritten rules that I’ll never understand, and worse, they seem to get upset with the people who obey the written rules of the road.
Dear God, I’m glad I’m not like them (except too often I am).
This week I became acutely aware of many of my own arrogant thoughts as I observed immigrants, the homeless, drunkards, pushy travelers on and around public transportation, and people who were too slow, too fast, or too loud. It is shameful to think about how often these thoughts came into my head.
On the other hand, I acknowledge these thoughts are sinful. I have God’s Holy Spirit reminding me to turn away, to change my line of thinking before it gets worse. Until I get to Heaven where there is no more sin, I live each day with this battle. For now, I have the joy in knowing that when I repent and turn from these evil ways I am forgiven, made new. In these moments I am also reminded to pray for others (instead of cursing them), to give, to share the love of Jesus.
One of the reasons I was able to remain “acutely aware” of these thoughts as sin was because God’s word was fresh on my mind; specifically the verses for this week where Jesus contrasts the proud and the humble.
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 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!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)
What a great simple prayer from the tax collector. Sometimes I make prayer too complicated. This is a good reminder to just humbly go to God and start by begging for mercy.
Father God, in this moment, I beg you for mercy. All too often my choices reflect self-focus rather than kingdom-focus. Let me see others how you see them, your children, your beloved, your creation. Amen.