Inability to Accept God’s Grace
Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Jesus wasn’t this Caspar Milquetoast guy who walked around in sandals, chewing on birdseeds and saying nice things to people all the time. Jesus could be really tough at times. And His harshest, toughest words were spoken to the religious hypocrites of His day–the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who had an inflated view of their own righteousness and looked down on others with contempt.
In Matthew 23:13, Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Such intolerance of others is a direct result of pride. Probably the greatest illustration of the intolerance of these religious hypocrites is found in a parable Jesus told that shows how pride leads to hatred of other people: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” (Luke 18:10-13).
Two men with two very different kinds of prayers. Look at what Jesus said in verse 14: “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other.” There were gasps in the audience when Jesus said that. “God justified the tax gatherer, not the religious person? We can’t accept that.” But Jesus added, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Pride, an inflated view of our own righteousness, leads to intolerance.
Another result of pride is an inability to accept God’s grace. In Luke 18:17, we find an intriguing verse by Jesus. He said, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Jesus didn’t say children need to become like adults in order to enter the kingdom of God. He said adults need to become like children to enter the kingdom of God. A child isn’t filled with the pride that makes it difficult for him to acknowledge that he is a sinner and he needs a Savior. That’s why we need to become like children. But when we are filled with pride, that pride keeps us from being able to experience and accept God’s grace. This is why God hates pride. Not because of what it does to Him but because of what it does for us–ultimately, robbing us of eternal life.
Pride is an attitude that credits us for our successes and blames others for our failures. Humility is an attitude that causes us to view both our successes and failures from God’s point of view.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Purpose over Aimlessness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.