As Lent continues, and I’m determined to give up contempt for six weeks, I’m beginning to see more clearly the harm contempt does in my life. Contempt is like a wide wedge that slips in my life and my relationships—separating me from God and others whenever I allow it in. When contempt festers, that wedge becomes deeper and the separation gap grows wider.
I think Jesus gives us one of the secrets to overcoming contempt in Luke 18:9-14. Jesus looks at those who carry contempt in their heart—namely, because they’re confident in their own righteousness. He tells the parable of two men who go up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee stands tall and proud in all that he does and leaves undone, but the tax collector stands on the outer edge, regretful and repentant, begging for mercy. Jesus says the repentant tax collector stands right before God.
This parable resonates deep inside of me. For the last few weeks I’ve been discovering that uprooting contempt in my life during Lent isn’t about behavior or attitude modification. Awareness is necessary. Change is essential. But the real shift in my life comes with a change of perspective—between myself and God—that leads to a change in the way I see and respond to others.
I feel like I’m a work in progress (and not just when it comes to contempt). But I’m moving forward, day by day, week by week, trusting God to complete the work He’s begun in me. More to come.
**Photo courtesy of: here