Fill in the Blank

by DanWolgemuth on October 6, 2023

Yesterday I was playing a little basketball with a couple of my grandkids. Yes, a favorite for me! Because the game occurred spontaneously, I was not wearing the appropriate footwear. My sandals provided little protection when a renegade foot slammed on top of it. I winced. Danced, and limped away.

Today, I got my toes stepped on again. This times with words. This time by Jesus.

It happened, not on a basketball court, but in Luke 18. During the telling of a story. A parable. A mirror.

The introduction to the story frames the target audience. “Those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.”

There is no beating around the bush, no polite interruption. No, this is a foot on my toes. Pride, as manifested in self-righteousness, is the center of the target. My pride. My contempt.

As Jesus reads the script of the pious Pharisee, he comes to a pivotal moment. A moment tucked within the cloak of a prayer. It narrates as follows…

‘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.’ (ESV)

And today, as I read these words I wondered, how do I fill in the blank? What completes my sentence?

‘God, I thank you that I am not like…___________________.”

The enemy of humility is comparison. The enemy of joy is comparison.  The enemy of contentment is comparison.

Often camouflaged in a vain attempt to exalt myself as more righteous than most. More compliant and obedient.

Comparison is the currency of debates. Of editorials. Of podcasts. Of social media.

And with that in mind, Jesus steps all over my toes. Not to wound, but to correct. Not to shame, but to redirect. Not to adjust the object of my criticism, but to alter the posture of my heart. He does this in a word… “repent”.

Yes, repent. A word that collects a great deal of dust in our culture. But a word that alters my line of sight… Repent!

This only happens when my vision is on Jesus, and not the fallen image bearers around me. Only then.

I suppose it is appropriate to fill in the blank, but in a refreshed way. With a different view.

‘God, I thank you that I am not like I used to be. Proud. Competitive. Self-absorbed. Self-righteous. Deluded. A worshiper of other things beside you. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for Jesus. Help me to keep my focus on Him. Only. Always.’

Yes. Fill in the blank.

Honestly. Even if painfully. Your toes will heal. And only then will our relationships mend. Only then will I delight in what God is doing in others. Only then will I be able to look with compassion and not comparison on those who are nothing like me.

Yes. Fill in the blank…  

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