The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed, ‘O God, I thank you that I’m not like other people – thieves, dishonest people, adulterers, or even this tax collector’. ~ Luke 18:11
I’ve been reading some blogs of wounded souls tonight. It’s caused me, first, to carefully examine my heart and then to take another look at life in the contemporary faith-based community. The trend of comparison shopping sins is age-old, but it seems to be gathering momentum.
In general terms, it goes something like this: it’s worse to be a murderer than a rapist; it’s worse to a rapist than a prostitute; it’s worse to be a prostitute than a divorcee; it’s worse to be a divorcee than an adulterer; it’s worse to be an adulterer than an addict; it’s worse to be an addict than to be deceitful; it’s worse to be deceitful than to be a glutton; it’s worse to be a glutton than a gossip; it’s worse to be a gossip than vain; it’s worse to be vain than self-righteous; it’s worse to be self-righteous than foolish; it’s worse to be foolish than whatever it is we are/do in the hidden places of our heart. And if it’s in the hidden places of our heart, then 1. it isn’t so bad (in comparison) and 2. if it doesn’t’ show, we pretend it doesn’t grow.
Individual categories are also broken down. Addictions: it’s worse to be addicted to drugs than to alcohol; worse to be addicted to gambling than to pornography; worse to be addicted to food than to exercise; worse to be addicted to shopping than to sports; worse to be addicted to TV than to the internet.
‘O God, I thank you that I’m not like other people… If I allow myself, even for a single moment to think: At least I haven’t… At least I’m not like… I’ve just taken my place with the Pharisee.
Sin isn’t relative. Sin is sin. It’s missing the holiness mark. It doesn’t matter if it’s by a mile or a millimeter. Grace is necessary in equal measure. So is humility. Those of us who live in stained glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones. Ever.