Mental Ladder-Climbing Over Others
When we approach God to confess our sin by reminding Him, or just thinking to ourselves, that at least we’re not as angry as him or as gossipy as her, we’re still thinking about the wrong person. The standard of comparison is not horizontal. God is the standard, not someone else, and He is perfect in holiness. We are to approach Him in humility, which isn’t happening if we’re still doing mental ladder-climbing over others.
This doesn’t mean that my sin is invariably and categorically worse than, for example, Hitler’s sin. But I don’t have to deal with Hitler’s sin in my heart, I have to deal with mine. I can’t judge someone else before dealing with my own heart (Matthew 7:5), so that makes mine sequentially problematic, if not actually worse.
Paul exclaimed, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24), not “Wretched man that I am! But have you considered my cousin?” Paul declared that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15), not “Christ came into the world to save sinners, and I sure hope you are paying attention.”
I need to confess my sin first, second to none. Imagine how well we’d all get along if we raced to be that sort of ruthlessly humble about our own sin. Try this at home, too; husband before wife (unless you’re the wife, then start with you), parents before children (while also helping the children learn the nature of their sin and their need to confess).