What made the Jew different than the Gentile ultimately led to the Jew’s temptation to arrogance and pride: God had revealed his will most fully to the Jew. Thus, the Gentiles were “the nations,” for that is what Gentiles means, while the Jews were “the nation,” the chosen people. But why were they chosen? It was not because they were more holy, more inclined to godliness, better suited for obedience, or closer to the image of God. No, they were chosen to produce the Savior of all nations. They were chosen in Christ, not in themselves. When they failed to remember this, they were given to the hypocrisy and double standards St. Paul condemns here.
We are tempted to the same thing as God’s chosen people in Christ, as the New Testament Israel. How often don’t we condemn in the world and in others what we secretly harbor and desire in our own hearts? How often don’t we forget that what sets us apart from the unbeliever is not our personal holiness, inclination to godliness, suitability for obedience, or a closer proximity to the image of God in and of ourselves? No, we are set apart only in Christ, and when we forget that, when we find room for arrogance or pride in our own flesh, when we fail to see our value in Christ alone, then we have lost Christ and become no different than the “Gentiles,” the unbelievers upon whom we look down.
God has revealed his will most fully to us, but, in so doing, he has also exposed our failure to live according to it. See your value in Christ. Recognize your own weakness, lack of personal holiness, inclination to ungodliness, resistance to obedience, and contrast to the image of God. Recognize these things so that you despair of them in yourselves and find them in Christ, through his blessed gospel. You are chosen. You are holy. You are godly. You are obedient. You are being restored in the image of God. Why? You are in Christ. With this attitude, we will battle the temptation to look down on others and we will be motivated to instead share with them where they too can find what they cannot find in themselves, how they too can go from being lost to chosen. We will point them to Christ, or, better yet, without pointing they will know where to look as they watch our own eyes, fixed on what is not ours on our own but is ours through faith in this Savior.