Contempt. In relationships with other people, it reflects how one treats another person. A customer treating the waitress that is serving him with disrespect, or a homeowner feeling the man that picks up his trash is beneath him. When we relate to others this way, we are lowering the other person, and thereby elevating ourselves above them. Such actions are a strike against the image of God they were created in, no matter who they are or what they have done.
Jesus once told a story about this, “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!’” (Luke 18:10-13)
The differences between the two men are startling. The religious man saw himself as a good person because of the good things he did. He was not like everyone else. He was better. Meanwhile, the tax collector saw himself as nothing. There was an admission of all he had done wrong. A sense that he was undeserving, so in brokenness he called out for mercy.
Our world is filled with people like the religious man. Multitudes that are filled with contempt toward others. Morally, spiritually and in other ways they feel good about themselves and are better than certain groups of people. They are superior to the neighborhood drug dealer or the local corrupt politician. They see “those type of people” as the ones who really need prayer, or the ones who really need saving. Privately they admit they have flaws and have fallen short in different ways, but counter that with their efforts at trying to be morally or spiritually good. To them, it is akin to insurance when they stand before God.
These attitudes are dangerous. They will produce a spiritual obnoxiousness that will lead to a sterile church, empty of spiritual power. It will also lead to a divided nation between those whom are good, and those whom are not good enough.
We all are sinners with evil lurking in our hearts. Regardless of our religion, political party or standing in our community. We have all done wrong. Who has never told a lie, never had a bad thought about another person or never has done something from a selfish motive? Who? God once said, “None is righteous, no, not one . . . no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:11,12)
There is a mysterious evil within us, that causes us to treat people this way. It is a corruption we are born with, no matter if we grew up in a religious home or not.
Because of this we face the judgement of God and His penalty of eternal death. But there is good news! This was the reason Jesus came from heaven to earth. He came to go to war against the evil within us by dying on a cross. There He took our place. He took our penalty. Then He rose again, securing the promise of forgiveness and a new life in Him.
Admit before God you have treated others with contempt. Admit you have tried to put others down, in order to lift yourself up. Admit this darkness inside you, then take on the humble spirit of the tax collector, and cry out to God for mercy. And because of what Jesus did on the cross for you, you can become a new man, a new woman.
A prayer for you – Lord God, examine our heart. Point out to us if we have treated people with contempt. Let us no longer live this way, where we disgrace the image of You in others. Forgive us O, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Clint Decker is President of Great Awakenings. Please share your comment with Clint at email@example.com and follow his blog at clintdecker.blogspot.com.
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