We sang "What Child Is This" last Sunday night. It uses the old King James language in verse 2, “Why lies He in such mean estate, Where ox and ass are feeding?”

I chuckled as I sang that verse, I guess it’s the little boy in me. I also thought little Kenny Ansell needs to grow up.

I heard a story about two little kids who were both given parts in a Christmas play. One little boy was a sheep and one little girl was to play Mary. The little boy went up to the little girl and said, “I’m a sheep. It’s hard to be a sheep.” The little girl said, “It’s hard to be a virgin too.”

They say if you are not the lead dog the view never changes. That again, makes me think about maturity or personal growth. It’s hard to grow up, it’s also hard to have the same view all the time. They say, “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Most people are stuck.

I wonder if self-righteousness has anything to do with our lack of growth? Self-righteousness manifests itself in our inability to love others (maybe, including ourselves). I have a friend who is a famous television preacher, he writes books, he is on the radio every day and if I shared his name you would probably recognize it but recently he shared what someone shared with him. Here’s the pro-tip: We can’t really love anyone until we realize we are capable of the same sins that they are guilty of. In others, we are all culpable.

In Luke 18 there’s a story about a self-righteous guy who I think probably hated everyone and everything, including himself. I doubt he was happy and he probably drove his wife and family nuts. He was considered a religious man and when he prayed he looked to Heaven as he looked down on others and told God, “I’m glad I’m not like other men. I do everything right.”

Another man was praying at the same time, he couldn’t look up because he recognized his failure, his prayer was, “God, be merciful to me, I’m a sinner.” Jesus says the slumped over, wreck of a man went home right with God.

In Psalm 51:17 we read that “Going through the motions doesn’t please” God. “A flawless performance is nothing to You, I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”

I gave up my sin police badge and boy do I feel better. I’m not Jesus, the Holy Spirit or anybody’s mother, therefore, I’m at peace. I know I’m too much like “other men.” I’m not grown up yet, I will probably laugh next Christmas. I don’t know much but I know there’s room at the table, come, let’s grow up together. He told me to tell you that.

____

Ken Ansell currently serves as a pastor and local missionary in small, rural Texas community. He plays lots of tennis and fly fishes when he can. He can be reached at kenansell1@gmail.com.