…I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the ruthless.
— Isaiah 13:11
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
I trust you remember the story of the publican (i.e., tax-collector) and the Pharisee. Publicans were low caste Israelites who collected taxes from other Israelites for the Romans. They were hated by the people. It seemed on this particular day a Pharisee—Pharisees were religious rulers who judged Israel—and a publican both went into the temple at the same time to pray. One went in the front and the other one went in the back door.
The Pharisee self-righteously thanked God that he was not like that sinner, the publican. Whereas, the publican, we are told, “would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but struck his chest, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner'” (Luke 18:13). He prayed to God; the Pharisee did not.
The publican didn’t say, “God, be merciful to me, one of many sinners,” but “God, be propitiated unto me, the sinner.” In his mind, he was the only one. And we read that the publican—not the Pharisee—went down to his house justified.
No one will receive salvation from God until he realizes he is a sinner, needing His grace. There is no place for arrogance in the Kingdom of God.
Question to ponder:
Why is it so hard to be humble?