To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
In today’s passage Jesus tells us the story of two men: a Pharisee and a tax collector. And in this story he tells us how they both reacted to sin, whether they believed that had sinned or not, in their lives.
- The Pharisee—He was puffed up with pride and self-righteousness. And such people think they are righteous because of their own efforts. They ignore their sinful nature, their own unworthiness and their constant need for God’s help and mercy. Because of this type of person’s exceptional commitment and work, that seem to be good, they do not think they need to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness.
- The Tax Collector—He was a different type of man and possessed a different type of heart than the Pharisee. He had likely cheated many people, was deeply conscious of his sin and guilt and was willing to truly repent. In other words he was willing to humble himself, admit his sin, turn from his own way, surrender to God and follow God’s purposes. This man came humbly before God in repentance, and, as a result, he was forgiven and made right with God. Such humility must characterize all true children of God.
The question that you must now ask yourselves is which one of these two men best represents you. Are you the Pharisee who thinks you don’t have a need to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness, because if you are then you truly mistaken and that mistake will come back to haunt you. Or are you the tax collector who knows that you are a sinner in need of God’s saving grace.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Joshua 15, Luke 18:18-43, Psalm 86:1-17 and Proverbs 13:9-10
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