Luke 13: 1-9
About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar.
Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.”
Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’
“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilise, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”
I do believe that God is the most loving of parents who sees the effort and the mistakes and the mishaps, and, just like us with our children, forgives and forgives and forgives.
So the next question is – if I believe this is true, am I sure that I don’t judge others?
If I have become so accepting of my own failings and sin; and my opportunities to redeem myself; why do I look at other people with critical eyes and opinions?
Why do I act like the child in the playground, jostling for favour by criticising the ones who are getting the attention and playing down my own failings with excuses; why do I feel justified when they fall, when they get left behind? And why do I think that that’s ok?
The shift of emphasis that changes ‘I am better than….’ to ‘but I am not as bad as…’ is not acceptable.
They both belong to Pride, possibly the greatest sin of all because it works in all directions; the pride of ‘I’m not worthy’ and the pride of ‘I’m worthier than them’.
If you can’t repent – that’s pride; if you can’t believe – that’s pride; and if you think it’s not for everyone – then that is also pride.
Spare the rod; against yourself and others; and learn to live the lesson of humility; give people the opportunity to learn; to heal; to grow.