In a recent conversation someone said, “What I really dislike about getting old is the patronizing way young people treat me. I may not know as much as they do about my smart phone, but I don’t like being treated in a condescending manner.” No one ever likes to be patronized, although it is happening all the time. People are treated in a condescending manner because of their race or level of education, their age or their sex. It even happens in the Church. Fellow Christians are sneered at because of their limited theology or confused liturgy or even their status in society This should not be. By means of a parable, Jesus challenged some good, devout, scriptural, learned religious leaders who looked down on people who were less good, devout and scripturally informed. He made it clear that what is important in God’s scheme of things is not superior knowledge or goodness; it is the quality of the relationship that we have with God. Any suggestion of arrogance or superiority over others runs directly counter to the humility and trust that arises out of genuine love for God. The love for God that Jesus stressed as being the first and most important commandment puts the interests of God before one’s own. It is devoid of pride and self-congratulation; it seeks, first and foremost, the glory of God. In the new creation that God calls us to be part of, and to which Christ introduced us, those who push themselves forward, expecting recognition and favours will be disappointed. It is those who humbly acknowledge their failures and insufficiencies who are honoured and respected.
- Have you experienced put-downs or been talked down to by others? How did you feel?
- What was the situation to which Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? What was the main point that he was making?
- Contrast the attitude of the Pharisee with that of the Tax Collector. What was different about their respective relationships with God?
- What is different about love-based humility and other forms of humility?