There’s a story in the bible about two men who went into a temple to pray. One man was a Pharisee, someone who was high in stature in the Jewish culture and at the top of the religious totem pole. The other man was a tax collector, someone who was the most hated of all Jews because of the work they did.
The Pharisee prayed from a posture of pride. He said, “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 and I give tithes of all that I get.”
The tax collector prayed from a posture of humility. He would not even lift up his eyes when he prayed, and staring at the ground and beating his chest he said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Jesus ends the story by saying, “I tell you, this man (the tax collector) went down to his house justified, rather than the the other (the Pharisee). For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus told this story to teach his audience about a new paradigm of the posture of one’s heart. The lesson is that the greatest posture of our heart is one of humility, not perfection. Imagine the shock and anger of the Pharisees in learning that all they had worked for, all the rules and regulations they had lived by, actually placed them lower in stature than any other Jew in God’s eyes.
At the time of Jesus, people were completely starved for relationship with God. Judaism had become a religion of regulations rather than relationship. Because God valued, more than anything, having a relationship with them, the paradigm had to shift, and Jesus built the bridge to mend that relationship.
This is still true today. Any relationship we have, with God or anyone else, can be mended by a change in the posture of our heart. Learning to suppress your self-righteous ego will build bridges to true happiness and mission with all of your relationships.
Now, I’m not naive. I understand hurts can exist in some relationships, but bridge building will bring beauty into any relationship. Not perfection, but beauty. It will take some struggle to get there, and the other person needs to agree to try, but your action from a loving, humble posture is they key.
This can work with any relationship:
- your kids,
- your spouse,
- your family,
- your friends,
- your teammates at work,
- colleagues with whom you volunteer, and
- members of your church.
By the way, if you build a bridge in your relationship with God first, it will make all the other bridges much, much easier to build.