“What More Are You Doing than Others?”
On the one hand and in other places, Jesus warns us against comparing ourselves favorably to others; he warns us against an attitude that leads to prayers like “God, I thank you that I am not like other people” because such an attitude indicates that we are far, far from the humility that opens us up and keeps us opened to God’s grace.
On the other hand and in this place, Jesus instructs us to compare ourselves to others with the aim of encouraging us to be better than and to do better than other people are and do.
O God, give us discernment that knows the difference between a lack of humility that causes us to think we’re better than other people on the one hand and an acceptance of your grace that causes to embrace the challenge to be and to do more than we would able to be and do apart from your grace on the other.
O God, give us the insight to know and to live in the truth that the one thing at which we are called to be and to do better than other people is all about love; we are to love other people, even our enemies, and we are to be hospitable to other people, even our enemies, in ways that would be impossible apart from the presence of your love and grace in us.
Perhaps one of the keys to the whole thing is that this “superior” stance toward life and style of life will help not only us but also everyone with whom we come into contact; in a way, then, it’s still more about others than it is about us.
O God, help us to love like we are capable of loving because of your love in our lives.
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:46-47)