Those Who Don’t Understand the Struggle
Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? Luke 5:30
Before I came to understand the depravity of my own nature through my addiction, I was often guilty of looking down on those who made such stupid mistakes. Even now, having been in recovery for a few years, it’s again easy to condescend to those still in the struggle. Why don’t you turn from your self-destruction, get help, and find recovery? You’re so weak. I can’t believe how dumb you are.
The Pharisees too, looked down on those whom they considered to be really bad sinners. In today’s passage, Jesus called Matthew – a tax collector – to be his disciple. Tax collectors were horrible people in the Pharisee’s eyes, so when Jesus went to Matthew’s home, dining with him, the Pharisees were offended. Why do you eat with sinners?
The underlying implication of the question is that the Pharisees weren’t sinners and that if Jesus was really a righteous man, he would dine only with them. The Pharisees, in their arrogance and condescension, turned out to be more lost than those who understood their failure. In believing themselves to be better, they were actually far worse.
The Pharisees are still alive and well today. Those Christians who haven’t struggled in any obvious way, often think quite highly of themselves, looking down on anyone who’s failed in ways they haven’t. Blind to their own pride, they’re often hypercritical of those who struggle with destructive behaviors, thought patterns, or mental illness. I’m not comparing anxiety and addiction, but the one who’s struggled with neither, often looks down on both.
We’re not responsible for those who are blind to their own critical, condescending, prideful nature. What we’re responsible for, is to make sure that we don’t do the exact same thing. In understanding that everyone struggles, it’s easy for us to look down on the one who doesn’t get it. I can’t believe your such a prideful, condescending jerk! In adopting this attitude, we become just like those who frustrate us.
We all struggle with something. The problem with pride, is that it is often the least visible to the one suffering from it. I’m sure glad I don’t struggle like you idiots! The challenge for us, is to address our own destructive nature, continually embracing humility in all things. This is our only defense against the toxic pride of the Pharisees.