Ezra Benson, a former agriculture secretary of the United States and the 13th President of the Church of Latter Day Saints, (I know an odd fella to be quoting) once said" pride is concerned with who is right and humility is concerned with what is right.” Just like my sermon four weeks ago and the rest of the recent weeks' gospel readings, Jesus is calling out the Pharisees for their habitual hypocrisy in their stewardship of God's people. Their biggest gaffe that these supposed faithful witnesses to God's Holy law, is their false empowerment and pride these men take from their practice of the law. The Pharisees’ were practiced lawyers of the Jewish society, and knew every law by heart. Their superior knowledge of Moses' law gave them a certain pride as they lived their life in perfect fulfilment of the law. Their pride in this feat lead them to care more about who is following the law perfectly rather seeing the big picture of the law. As Benson would say, the Pharisees were concerned more with who is right then what is right.
From this reading, Jesus is clearly telling us that pride is not the correct path we must take as Christians: humility leads to the path of salvation. Jesus cannot be any more blunt about this virtue then when he said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humbled themselves will be exalted.” As Christians, we should care more about what is right rather than who is right. We should act selflessly, worrying more about others rather than ourselves. We should grateful towards people's selfless acts to ourselves, and love each other as Christ loves us. Though I am making an assumption about Christ, but I truly feel that this is how he would want his church act.
But look at the church today, do we really act humbly, or are we a proud institution? We have churches who care more about the sexual orientation of a person more than their character, we have churches care more about the gender of a person more than their ability to spread the gospel, and we have churches who care more about being the only one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church than recognizing that there is truth in all denominations and dare I say all religions. The church still seems to be following the path of the Pharisees, the institution that Jesus seemed to always condemn. I do not want to be totally pessimistic about the church. We do have examples of churches acting humbly. Many churches in this country and in my own have been at the forefront of removing barriers of separation and promoting the freedom of all people. Their example in thinking that maybe God understands things better than I do is an idea that is often said but not really taken to heart. Their selfless commitment to promoting the kingdom of God above their own idea of a perfect world is a message the whole church should take to heart. It is a message of true Christ like humility. As Christians, we must begin to worry more about what is right than who is right. We must preach a gospel of acceptance rather than exclusion of people, and promoting love at any moment we can. Only then will we be able to say the whole church is acting humbly.
To quote yet another president of the Church of Latter Day Saints Gordon Hinckley, “Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” Christ’s church was not called to the most important institution on the earth, but it is called to be the most influential force in changing people’s lives and the world.