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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pride Goeth Before a Fall

We all know this story. It starts with a lawyer who asks Jesus, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" It ends with the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

When the lawyer asked his question, Jesus answered with a question. "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" (Luke 10:26) And the lawyer answered correctly (Luke 10:28). "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27) So far, so good. The man knows his Scriptures. He has the right answers to what some might consider the hardest of questions -- how do we inherit eternal life? And then ... he stepped in it.
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29)
There he was, humming along, asking all the right questions, giving all the right answers, and right out of Scripture. Couldn't go wrong ... right? And, yet, he did. Instead of pursuing the known, he was "desiring to justify himself."

Now, don't miss the point. (The word "justify" may confuse us.) He wanted to demonstrate that he was "all that". He wanted Jesus to confirm for him what he already believed -- that he was a righteous man. He was already just. He had already, all on his own, managed to earn eternal life. The question at the beginning, then, was not for information, not that of a seeker. He was aiming to prove that he had arrived and wanted the teacher to verify it for everyone else.

He asked the right questions and had the right answers. What went wrong? He wasn't interested in either. He was merely interested in himself -- a particularly pernicious form of pride, the pride of religious correctness. Trust me, if and when you and I fall into it, Jesus will have a correction for us like He did for this lawyer. "Who is my neighbor?" Oh, that's a big question and your pride won't be able to support the answer.

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