Jesus told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Source: Luke 18:9-14 (NASB)
As background, the Greek word for contempt is ἐξουθενέω exouthenéō, (ex-oo-then-eh’-o). It means contemptible, despise, least esteemed or set at naught. The first principle of Jesus is to love. Contempt is hate but it is insidious in that I don’t see it in my life.
How much of my life is driven by contempt? Jesus isn’t amused with my attitude. My contention that I am not like those other people who miss God’s goal (aka sinners) is way off base. Jesus is clear that I shouldn’t judge others. I do it anyway. Yikes!
What should I focus on to get out of my contemptuous attitude? I have missed God’s goal (aka sin). I need mercy from Jesus. I must be humble which many times I am not. My contempt for others has no place in God’s Kingdom. Left to my own devices, I am not in right standing with God. I need the mercy of Jesus. That is the only way forward.
I need to see the contempt I have for Jesus and others in my life and drive it out. There is no room for it at all. If I want right standing with God (i.e. being justified), there is no other way. The Apostle Paul warns:
“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Rom 14:10 NASB)
Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν
Translated “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”