The Boastful Pharisee
WHAT does it mean to be boastful? Do you know?—
Here is an example. Have you ever tried to do something that you are not very good at? Maybe you tried to hit a baseball. Or maybe you tried to skip rope. Did anyone ever say, “Ha! Ha! Ha! I can do that better than you can”?— Well, that person was boasting. He was bragging about himself.
How do you feel when others do that? Do you like it?— Then, how do you think others would feel when you boast?— Is it kind to tell someone else, “I’m better than you”?— Does Jehovah like people who do that?—
The Great Teacher knew some people who did things like that. One day he told them a story. It was about a Pharisee and a tax collector.
The Pharisees were proud religious teachers. They often acted as if they were more righteous or holier than other people. The Pharisee in Jesus’ story went up to God’s temple in Jerusalem to pray.
Jesus said that a tax collector also went up there to pray. Now, most people did not like tax collectors. They felt that the tax collectors were against them. And, besides that, some tax collectors were not always honest.
At the temple the Pharisee began praying to God this way: ‘O God, I thank you that I am not a sinner like other people. I do not cheat people or do other bad things. I am not like that tax collector over there. I am a righteous man. I go without food twice a week so that I have more time to think about you. And I give to the temple a tenth of all the things that I get.’ That Pharisee really thought he was righteous, didn’t he?— And he told God about it too.
But the tax collector was not like that. He did not feel that he was good enough even to come close to God’s temple. He would not even raise his eyes toward heaven. So he kept standing at a distance with his head bowed. He was sorry about his sins. And he hit his chest in grief. He did not try to tell God how good he was. But he prayed: ‘O God, be kind to me a sinner.’
Which of those men do you think was pleasing to God? Was it the boastful Pharisee, the one who thought he was so good? Or was it the tax collector, who felt sorry about his sins?—
Jesus said: ‘To God, the tax collector was more righteous than the Pharisee. Because everyone who tries to make it look as if he is better than other people will be brought low. But he that is lowly in his own eyes will be raised up.’—Luke 18:9-14.
Did you get the lesson that Jesus was teaching?— He was showing that it is wrong to think that we are better than other people. Let’s see how this lesson fits our lives.
Perhaps you and another child are being asked some questions at school. What if you are able to give the answers right away, but the other child is slower? Of course, you feel good when you know the answers. But would it be kind to tell the other student that he is dumb?— Is it right to try to make yourself look good by making the other person look bad?—
That is what the Pharisee did. He bragged that he was better than the tax collector. But the Great Teacher said that he was wrong.
It is true that one person may be able to do a certain thing better than someone else. But does that mean that he is a better person?—
Think about it. If we know a lot, should we boast?— Did we make our own brain?— No, God is the One who gave man a brain. And all the things we know we learned from someone else. Maybe we read it in a book. Or perhaps someone told us. Even if we figured it out by ourselves, how did we do it? By looking at things that God had made. Everything we have came from someone else.
Some people are strong. Does that make them better than everyone else?— They did not make their own bodies, did they?— God is the One who gave muscles to man. And God is the One who makes food grow so that we can eat and be strong.
So, do any of us have reason to boast? Are we better than other people?— Instead of telling others how good we are, we should really be telling them how wonderful Jehovah is, shouldn’t we?— Because he is the One who makes it possible for us to do things well.
When a person tries hard, the kind thing is to say something that makes him feel good. Tell him that you like what he did. Maybe you can even help him to do better. That is what you would like people to do for you, isn’t it?— Well, Jesus said: ‘Just as you want other people to do to you, do the same way to them.’ That is a good rule to follow, isn’t it?— —Luke 6:31.
If we do that, we will never brag or boast. We won’t be like that boastful Pharisee.