I have always been sure of my motivation to be baptized, and sure of my motivation to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church and once there to become an acolyte and serve on various committees. But do I sometimes push aside the fact that I wish to glorify him in all these things, and instead wallow in the warmth of self-importance? Do I sometimes yield to the temptation of thinking, as the Pharisee in the Temple, that I’m better than the person next to me on the subway because I’m so involved in the life of my church? Am I quick to mention the shelter program or the food pantry so acquaintances and colleagues can stroke my ego and tell me what a good person I am? Happily, God is present in the Scriptures to guide me back on track when I stray: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
These passages are wonderful reminders of what is truly important to God and, therefore, important to me. From time to time, I may fall into the indulgence of self-congratulations but I can also bask in self-pity. I look at people who seem so spiritually centered, so sure of their faith, so willing to give of themselves and I despair I will ever be worthy enough in God’s eyes. Again, the Lord provides the window through which I can see that comparisons are wasteful, meaningless exercises, because we all have unique gifts to bring. And while there may be some extraordinary people like Mother Teresa, there are many more ordinary people doing the best they can to lead productive, worthwhile lives. Incredibly, God embraces us all, so long as we seek to know him and love him with a steadfast heart.