Luke 18:11-12 – The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." (NIV)
As Christians in today's society, we must develop a strong sensitivity to the creed of a Pharisee. Do we exhibit those traits in our lifestyle? Most of us, at some time or other, have viewed the world around us from the perspective that what is wrong is usually someone else's fault. The very act of shifting responsibility to others gives us a subjective means of affirming ourselves as better than others. It is difficult to avoid taking comfort in finding someone who is "worse" than we are. How often have we followed the reasoning that we seek mercy for ourselves and justice for others?
Our eyes are trained to look outward, but they do not look inward. In the practice of looking outward we can easily develop the habit of seeing what is wrong. We always seem to find something to focus on. Because we are sinners, our inner eyes are weak and rarely exercised. It is our outlook that dominates our thinking. Jesus' words in Mark 7:9 point out that we, like the Pharisees, can develop "a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe our own traditions" (ways). We tend to interpret, reinterpret, or reduce the Bible's wisdom to a list of do's and don'ts, that some can do and others don't care about.
Each of us must become humble enough to ask God to teach us to look into our own hearts. It is not something that comes naturally. Inner sight requires the exercise of the daily spiritual discipline of confession, humility, and prayer. Unless we seek guidance and direction from God regularly and faithfully, we will be our own blind guides.
Prayer: O heavenly Father, we pray that you will guide and direct us toward developing the spiritual discipline to look inward and to find the faults that lie within. We pray that you will strengthen our inner eye so that we may walk in harmony with your will. We pray in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Amen.