“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted…’
“And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.”’ And he said, ‘All these I have kept from my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, ‘How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'” Luke 18:9-14,18-24
The Pharisee, tax collector, and rich ruler betrayed whom they exalted by their words and posture toward the Lord. The Pharisee spoke for all to hear his litany of self-righteousness, making notable that he was justifiably on the throne of his life, merely informing God. The rich man inquired more earnestly, yet rued the thought of releasing his wealth. Did he treasure it too much? Only the tax collector was stricken with his sin, helplessly and trustingly casting himself and his idols on God’s mercy.
In order to exalt God, we must get out of the way. But the problem with us is us. We think too much of ourselves, our goodness, efforts, accomplishments, and stuff. We’ve made these gifts from God into ultimate things for which we take credit, and can’t seem to remove self from the pedestal of our life. We give lip-service to God, but we are almighty. As John Calvin described, “the human heart is a perpetual idol-making factory.” As long as we are pumped full of pomp, self importance, and materialistic endeavors, we will not give proper praise to the One worthy of this due. Bow before Jesus, and everything falls into a holy perspective.
Whom and what do we exalt? The answer is in what occupies our thoughts, dreams, and affections. Do we habitually make much of ourselves, incessantly talking as if my life is the only one of interest or importance? Where have I misplaced value on achievements, acquaintances, possessions, experiences? Anything or anyone (even family members) who preempts the high, holy, incomparable God in our hearts and souls must be displaced. (Isaiah 40:18-23,25-26; 44:6-8)
Almighty God, may I worship, adore, and exalt You alone, the only One worthy.