We all fall in to the comparison trap at some point or another, thinking to ourselves, “I’m not as (fill in the blank) as so-and-so, but at least I’m more (fill in the blank) than this other person.” Instead of living with the right understanding of who God is, who I am, and who you are like our definition for humility says, we come up with our own ranking system that impacts how we see ourselves, relate to others, and how we respond to our sin. In Luke 18, Jesus warns us against relying too heavily on such a ranking system and reminds us that 1 Samuel 16:7 is true – “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
MEMORY VERSE: “Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests but take an interest in others, too." PHILIPPIANS 2:3-4
In the presence of those who “had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else,” Jesus tells a parable of two men going up to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14 NLT). One of the men, a Pharisee, actually thanks God that he is not a sinner, and boasts about a bunch of other “righteous” deeds he’s done. The other, a despised tax collector, acknowledges his sin and asks God for mercy. Upon first glance, the self-centered prayer of the Pharisee seems ridiculous, yet how often are we just like the Pharisee and those in Jesus’ original audience? We can be quick to judge others from a prideful heart and slow to humbly admit our need for God’s mercy. A humble heart, with a right view of God’s holiness and man’s sin, is more pleasing to God than a laundry list of good deeds done from a heart void of humility and puffed up with pride.
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READ Luke 18:9-14. Compare & contrast the Pharisee and the tax collector (their posture, the content of their prayers, their jobs, etc.). Where do you see pride? Who shows humility & how? How is Jesus’ view of these two people different than the view the rest of society had of them?
(People just saw what they looked like on the outside but Jesus saw their hearts.)
Talk about comparison. Is it easy or hard to compare yourself to others? What are areas where you compare? (school/grades, sports, physical appearance, etc.) Is there anyone specific you compare yourself to? (sibling, friend from school or church, etc.) Talk about things we can remember are true about God, ourselves, and others when we’re tempted to compare.
Remember in the story when the Pharisee said, “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else”? What?!? We know that’s not true because the Bible says everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23). Is it easy for you to confess when you sin and ask for forgiveness? Why or why not? How can humility help you respond rightly to sin?
Write each word of the memory verse on a post-it note and stick them somewhere where you’ll see them throughout the week (refrigerator, kitchen window, game room wall, etc.). Remove one sticky note every day and see if you can still say the verse! If you can, keep going until there are no post-its left!
Thank God for who He is and for what He has done. Ask Him to teach you how to respond rightly to your sin. Ask Him to help you see people the way He does instead of the way the world tells you.
Next week is Baptism Weekend! Therefore there will be no blog next week. Join us as we celebrate those who are taking the next step in obedience to Christ by being baptized. See you there!
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