Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus tells us that we should be “humble”; to bow our heads in humility and not hold our heads up “high” like our “feet don’t stink, too”. In some circles, folks would call the Pharisee in the Parable with the Tax Collector a “Topper”. Meaning, often, when around others, he might “top” their testimony with his own self-righteous testimony. But, nobody is overly-excited to be around a “Topper”. There was a skit on Saturday Night Live for a stretch where a character would “outrageously-top” others’ stories. In a comical way, one “outrageous” ‘topping’ story grew into another and another until, finally, nothing rational was coming-out of the “Topper’s” mouth. Isn’t that us sometimes? We are quick (at times) to point the finger at others, but very seldom do we point our fingers at ourselves. All too often, we learn much later that we were the issue all along. I hear this often with simple things like Parents complaining about their Tween’s screen-time to more complicated situations like alcoholism. It’s easier to blame others and be the “Topper” than it is to self-reflect and “deal” with the situation “head-on”. But, thank God that Jesus wasn’t a “Topper”. No, He so humbled Himself that He left His Throne in Heaven to become human (in the form of a helpless-Infant while growing into a Man) who’s final hours of His three-year Ministry were spent on His knees washing the dirty feet of others just moments before being butchered to death. So, “halt the exalt” and “tumble & humble”, so that God can help you accomplish in this life what He has planned for you since eons ago.