Snob class. Snob value. Snob school. Snob hotels. Snob clothing. Snob cars. Snob attitudes. Snob treatment. Snob advertising. Snob professions. Snob recreation. Snob clubs. Snob churches. Snobs.

The dictionary says snobs are people with exaggerated respect for social position or wealth, those who feel ashamed to have any connection with people whom they consider socially inferior to them.

It is easy to shut the dictionary and feel that the description fits a certain type of person, “certainly not me.” One’s memory may bring a parade of types in front of the mind’s eye, the kind of people who have hurt us with varieties of snubbing, with squashing remarks, with a tone that cuts like a lash. “How glad I am not to be a snob.”

But are we safe from being judged snobbish by God? How often do I, do you, look down from a pinnacle of self-satisfaction upon the lowly miserable people “below” our mountain. “Oh, but I feel warm and open toward all minority groups,” says one person with fervor. And a friend nearby chimes in, “I’m careful to be like Jesus was. I’d sit right down on the sidewalk with beggars or junkies. I just couldn’t be snobbish.” Another friend adds, “Me too. I’m the captain but I don’t mind inviting privates for dinner.” And another, “No class barriers for me. I work with my hands, and nuts to my university degree. I’m going to be a shoemaker.”

There is indeed a breaking of barriers going on, but the danger is that subtle new “mountains” are being formed, with new categories of people below as the snubbed ones. New divisions are being made, but the judgments taking place are as sharp as ever. The same old feelings of superiority are being experienced, although the outward appearance of the people looking “down” may have changed.

People who went to public schools sometimes look down on those who attended private schools. People who have never been in government circles feel a kind of superiority to those who have won elections. Those who live in city flats may feel superior to people who have farms or any large property. The “liberated woman” may feel superior to men. Those who are the critics may consider themselves intellectually superior to those who have painted the paintings, written the music, given the lectures. When we are in a sailboat we may scorn those in a yacht. We may ferret out the weaknesses of co-workers so that we can feel superior to them. Not one of us is free from the danger of playing the snob.

Jesus spoke this parable unto certain people who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others”:

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Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted [Luke 18:10–14].

“Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?… Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41, 42).

What danger we are warned of! One day we will go into the presence of the Creator of the universe, who is all knowing. We should certainly be sure that we are not coming into his presence as snobs.

How often are we in the place of the Pharisee? “I am so glad, God, that I haven’t cheated like that man did, that I haven’t lied as this one has, that I haven’t been leading a majority group but have always been in a minority one, that I have eaten poor food and slept in a poor bed. O God, how glad I am that I am so humble!” “God, I am thankful for my education and understanding, so glad not to be like …” “O God, I am …”

What is it? What is the beam? The beam can be the sin of neglect, the sin of omission, as well as a wicked thing we have done or thought. The beam can be pride in humbleness, as well as pride in riches or power. The beam can be a feeling of superiority to people above us socially, as easily as to those who have less in money or status or education. The beam can be, in Jesus’ words, trusting in ourselves that we are righteous and despising others.

The puffing up of self is very subtle. People have felt that buttons caused pride, and as time went by the ones who did not wear buttons were in danger of having more pride in not wearing buttons than anyone ever had in wearing them.

In the “causes” we espouse we are in danger of taking pride in putting aside the former cause of pride. People are proud of long hair, or short hair. People are proud in a wrong way of being white or black. People are proud of being old or young, of being humble or of being in power. People are proud of knowing other people, or of not knowing other people. There are all sorts of “buttons” to wear or to refuse to wear, and pride in the wearing or not wearing can turn us into snobs as we come to the Lord.

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There are conditions placed upon us in our approach to the living God, and we are not to brush them aside. When we come to God in prayer, our first requirement is to come with our sin cleansed away because we have come through Jesus, who died so that we might have access to God. By dying, Jesus made it possible to break down the wall of separation that sin put up between man and God. We can come and communicate with God the Father in Jesus’ name.

But as we carefully read his communication to us, we are warned that there are certain things for which we need to ask forgiveness. We need to be careful to recognize these in ourselves and to speak openly to God about them.

These things are the “beams” in our eyes, which are huge to God, but which we are apt to rationalize or not even see. We try to remove a tiny speck in someone else’s eye, God tells us, while we ignore the enormous log in our own eye.

“Take time to look for the log, and be honest with yourself. Don’t be easy on yourself. Don’t be embarrassed to tell yourself how inconsistent you are being.” This is what we are being told. Then when we have discovered something that needs to be changed to be in line with the drastic teaching of God’s word, we need to speak about it to God, and ask with the publican, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”

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