I think Jesus likes to contradict me both when I think too highly of myself and when I think too lowly of myself.
First, I’ll give you an example of each from scripture and then explain how it might apply to us.
In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at the well who thinks too lowly of herself. Due to her messed up personal life with multiple divorces, she is viewed locally as a low life. Plus, being a member of an outcast ethnic group, she was shocked that Jesus would even bother talking to her.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) (John 4:9)
Jesus regards her as full of worth and dignity, and dialogs with her anyway.
Now meet the Pharisees, who thought too highly of themselves. When Jesus confronts them in John 8, their attitude is : How dare you challenge our beliefs ! We are always right ! Jesus is not as mellow with them as he was with the woman at the well — indeed in John 8:44 he goes so far as to say they are listening to their father, the devil.
Do you see yourself in either of these categories? I see how both of these can and do happen in my life. So when I sin or err and beat myself up and feel like a worthless piece of filth, that’s the “too low.” Jesus contradicts me :You are a new creation. You are a forgiven man who has life and worth from me.
It’s easy to cheer for Jesus being especially stern to those hard-heartedly closed Pharisees. We may even pat ourselves on the back for not being like them. But sometimes that hard-heartedness sneaks into us.
Here’s how : Someone confronts me about something wrong I said or did and they are spot on— but my first reaction is to think: How dare they say that to me? I know I am in the right ! Now I am thinking too highly of myself.
I’m glad we have a merciful God. I need to do one thing that the Pharisees refused to do : when I am in the wrong, I quickly need to grab on to Jesus’ offer of repentance and forgiveness.
Today’s takeaways :
- When you are on a high horse – listen to Jesus and repent.
- And when you are beating yourself up —-stop !— listen to Jesus and see your worth.