No One Of Them Was Like The Other
Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, is not a person to worry about details. I told him repeatedly that we were going to Ontario to attend a wedding in the wife’s family. I made it clear we would be gone seven days, but it was all lost on him. He called three times last week and was huffy that we didn’t answer the phone. My old neighbor informed me that I could have, at least, left a cell phone number that he could have reached me at during the time I was away. I told him that it proves that only when you are away do people want to contact you.
I told Ed it was his turn to hear about my grandchildren for a change, as we had a family reunion in Ontario where all the grandchildren were present but one. We had the whole age range from kindergarten to high school. Not one of them was like the other, and they had a great time together, while the adults were quite nice to each other, since it was only for a couple of days.
When I asked Ed if he had urgent news to share from Melville, he said that with the harvest done he was feeling a bit bored and that was why he was calling me. He wanted to know how my curling was going and tell me that his curling team was off to a great start. Ed is not modest and indicated that his team’s success was due to him being their skip.
It is a challenge to be modest when you are skillful at a sport or have a natural talent that shines beyond others. If our weaknesses humble us, our strengths may exalt us too much, so that they give us blind spots. When driving a car, it is important to shoulder check because the mirrors on the sides of our cars do not always tell us the whole truth. If we do not shoulder-check, we may find there was a car beside us that we could not see in our side mirror. When it comes to being pleased with ourselves, we may be setting ourselves up for a deadly crash.
Jesus tells of a Pharisee or religious leader who had a blind spot because of the good things that he did. He looked at the good things he did and decided in his mind that he was better than anyone else. He said, “Thank you, God, that I am not like other men.” He then listed some of the good things that he did. He also saw a tax collector standing behind him at prayer, and thanked God that he was not like the tax collector behind him. The Pharisee was convinced that there was no other like himself in good conduct.
The tax collector had not come to pray at the temple to tell God how good he was, but that he needed God’s mercy because he was a sinner. He went home trusting in the mercy of God for sinners, while the Pharisee went home confident in how much better he was than others. There is a great danger in telling God or others how good and right we are at anything.