Do you remember that old Mac Davis song? Here is the opening stanza:
Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
‘Cause I get better lookin’ each day
That could have been written by one of the characters in Jesus’ Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. It is Luke 18 and goes like this: “Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’”
What’s on my mind this week as I pray over that passage and study it? Not country-western music, for sure. I am thinking about politics. Today Mike Prence praised Donald Trump for “being humble” at the debate last night and in his apology for boasting about sexual assault. Was Donald Trump humble? Do our politicians in general model the kind of attitude Jesus’ encourages in this parable? Whom do you know who is truly humble? I’ll be we can all think of a few people like that. What might any of us live like if we truly embodied Philippians 2?
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.