“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:.”.
As we began to travel the journey of humility, the Lord has shown us, the three issues of our hearts in our previous devotional, that we must confront and get rid of, that is: Trusting ourselves, Considering ourselves righteous & Looking down on others. Without dealing with these issues, we cannot learn humility nor can we be justified before God.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the elder son answered his father, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'” Luke 15:29-32
He trusted in himself. He considered himself to be good and righteous by his own achievements and he looked down on his younger brother. Where did this matter of the heart leave him? He was left standing outside the house and he was not able to enter in and join the celebration. If he had to join the celebration, he would have had to deal drastically with the barricades of his heart but he was not willing to do so.
This is the danger and the warning to many of us in the Christian community. We still hold these attitudes of the heart and are not willing to deal severely with them. “‘And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” The warning for those of us, who are not willing to address these issues of the heart is that, we will find ourselves standing outside and not be part of the final celebration when our Lord returns.
Apostle Paul is a great example for us. If we consider his life, he had every reason to have a chip on his shoulder. “though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” Phil 3:4-7
Paul dealt brutally with these attitudes and look at how he explains it. “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith..” Phil 3:8-9
This journey of humility that Paul took and that which he taught to those whom he led, by example, is seen beautifully described in the way the team did their ministry in Thessalonica; “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.” 1Thess 2:4-6
They did not speak to please men. They did not speak in order to be seen in a good light amongst the people. They did not flatter nor were they putting on a mask with another agenda in the heart. They were not wanting glory and recognition from people. The genuineness of their relationship with the people of Thessalonica is explained in the ensuing verses. The ministry that came out of humility resulted in the whole region receiving the gospel.