Foolish Comparison

In an iconic scene from the film, Crocodile Dundee is walking through New York city with his girlfriend. Suddenly a mugger steps out with a knife demanding his wallet. Dundee looks at the knife and says, ‘that’s not a knife.’ Then he pulls out an enormous Bowie knife and says, ‘that’s a knife!’ The mugger realises how puny his knife is in comparison with Dundee’s and runs off.

It just goes to show that something may seem impressive only until compared with something bigger. It’s this idea that lies at the heart of one of Jesus’ most famous stories. A religious zealot, a Pharisee, goes up the Temple to pray with a tax-collector, a sinner. The Pharisee looks down on the sinner and boasts about how righteous he is by comparison. The sinner, on the other hand, realises he must compare himself to the holy God he has come to worship and asks for mercy.

We do a similar thing when we compare ourselves to others and decide we’re better than they are. God looks on our self-righteousness and says, ‘that’s not righteousness’. Then he shows us his perfect Son Jesus and says, ‘that’s righteousness!’ 

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