My daughter has three little boys. The oldest, at age 6, has been playing baseball for a couple of years now. The youngest one, at age 2, has a year or two before he is old enough to play. The middle one, age 4, started playing T-Ball for the first time this year.
After sign-ups, he got all excited. And then the day came when he got his uniform. He got all decked out the moment it arrived. He had a hat, shirt, pants, a glove, and a bat. He had his mom send word; so my wife and I went over to see him in his finery.
When we arrived, he stepped out in full regalia. He then paraded repeatedly around the living room all full of himself. As he did, he kept on looking at me saying over and over again: “Look at me, Granddaddy, look at me, Granddaddy!” Needless to say, he was a sight worth seeing!
Fast forward three weeks… It is now opening day; and while he is once again decked out, he is no longer in the relatively safe confines of his living room. Now, he is actually out on the field playing ball. Or so was the expectation.
For now, even though he was once again decked out in all his finery, it was time to play ball. And when the ball was put into play and snaked its way out to him where he had been ensconced by the coach in the relatively innocuous position of short field, it was indeed time for him to play ball!
Unfortunately, as you may have already surmised, he did not have clue what to do. Despite a chorus of instruction from the bleachers, several of his teammates, and, above all, his coaches, did simply not have a clue what to do!
A vastly more experienced 5-year-old infielder had to run out and retrieve the ball and throw it back in. Only, by then, two runs had crossed the plate and the batter was standing on second base.
Now, don’t flood me with hate mail. I and the rest of his family all know that he will figure out how to play the game in time. After all, his older brother certainly has. After all, the two of them play on the same team; and his older brother finished the game with 3 hits, 5 RBIs, and having gotten out most of the opposing hitters by fielding their batted balls at the pitcher’s mound and running them down and tagging them out on their way first base. (Ooops! Here I am telling you about my grandchildren!)
Still, it is not the oldest, but the beloved second grandson that I wish to focus on here. You see, for all his finery, for all his adornment, for all his strutting around in his uniform, he simply did not have a clue about how to actually play the game of baseball!
Despite how proud he was of how he looked, he just had no idea
of what his coach expected of him as he actually played the game! And this leads me to my point…
As I reflected on all of this, I could not help but think of Jesus’ story in the New Testament Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, verses 9-14…
“9To some who trusted in their own righteousness and viewed others with contempt, He also told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like the other men—swindlers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and pay tithes of all that I acquire.’
13But the tax collector stood at a distance, unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven. Instead, he beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man, rather than the Pharisee, went home justified. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In Jesus’ story, the Pharisee was obviously quite full of himself. Decked out in all his finery and adornment as he was, he clearly wanted others to know just how impressive he was, as he strutted before them right down front at the altar!
And yet, the glaring truth is that he did not have a clue about how to actually please Almighty God!
By contrast, in Jesus’ story, the poor publican did. He humbled himself before Almighty God (as well as all others who cared to look), and prayed that Lord would grant him mercy. As a result, Jesus tells us that he, and not the haughty Pharisee, left the House of God that day justified.
My little grandson, in his simple, unassuming 4-year-old innocent naïveté, reminded me of a tremendous truth – the same one asserted here by Jesus. And that truth is that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted!
The real question, of course, is whether or not you, too, see this. For at the end of the day, it is far, far better to actually fulfill the part one has been allotted than it is just to look that part!
And that alone looks like it is a sight worth seeing!