Yesterday we ended by reminding ourselves not to be pharisaic. Well, maybe then, we need to look through the eyes of our inner Pharisee for a day, just to get a better understanding of why they look down on other people, and even themselves at times. Yes, I do think our inner Pharisees are driven as much by self-loathing as by the need to think themselves better than everyone else.
Look, I know I am better than them, because I try so much harder. I work at it. I push myself. God helps those who help themselves, you know. And he does. Look at where I am now, so far above all these layabouts and sinners! I’m saved, and now I can sit back and tell other people how to become as holy as I am, as close to the Lord as I am. I am helping them, really, by showing them such a good example. And I truly believe that if everyone were as strict with themselves as I am, if they really disciplined their minds and hearts to believe and feel the way I do, with calculated logic and good sense, then the world would be a better, more regimented place. We could leave all these dreadful, sinful urges behind us and really control ourselves, and our lives too.
There truly is no-one who does not look down their nose at other people at one time or another. And we think we are justified in doing so until we catch ourselves at it. Sometimes the prayer of examen (laying one’s soul bare before the Lord for correction and in repentance) also involves finding ways to be kind and compassionate to one’s own faults. That way we can hopefully extend mercy to those who share those same burdens.
Photo and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017