READ : Luke 18:9-14
God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (v. 13 NIV)
We’ve now come to the second preliminary to knowing Christ, namely, humility. That, in fact, is really the first and most important preliminary, because at the root of our unwillingness is pride. From that first sin in the garden, pride has been the chief barrier between us and the God we used to know face to face. “You will be like God,” hissed the serpent. The self-centeredness of that lie is the deep cause of our less than intimate knowledge of Christ.
Think back to my marriage example. We might have good reasons to resist our spouses. She might be wrong in what she wants. What he wants might be harmful. That can’t be the case with Jesus, whose will is perfect and pleasing. But our sinful pride won’t acknowledge that. I’ve actually heard people say, “I will not humble myself. That’s beneath my dignity.” They are echoing Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost: “It is better to reign in hell, than to serve in heaven.”
Most of us wouldn’t be so brazen. Instead, we negotiate with God. “I’ll follow Christ in this part of my life, but not there. I’ll do the part of your will that fits my will, but I won’t do that thing.”
We can do a thousand things to know Christ better—read the Bible, pray, go to church, serve the poor, sleep on a bed of nails. But those things won’t bring us closer to Christ, until we first humble ourselves like this sinner in the temple.
God, be merciful to me, a sinner! Amen.