It’s often easy to come before God in prayer and think about the horrific sins of our neighbors, the horrors we see on the news, and the injustices taking place around the world. We may even find ourselves thanking God that our sins aren’t as immoral as our neighbors and blindly turn away without acknowledging our own sin and immoral hearts.
This is our self-righteous act to justify our own sins and believe that we can find righteousness within ourselves.
In Romans 3:10-12, Paul says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
We have no desire within ourselves to seek God, we are not righteous and we have no understanding. In some instances, we have turned to our own ways and have become worthless. We are all these things apart from the grace and mercy of Jesus. Jesus sums this up in the parable of The Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
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Pharisees knew the word of God but often held legalistic beliefs and believed traditions to be equal authority to God’s word. Tax collectors were greedy, Jewish servants to the Roman empire and would take advantage of their fellow Jewish people for their personal financial gain, often overcharging them.
In Luke 18:9-14, the Pharisees believed they could fast and give their way to justification before God. They were boastful and self-righteous in their prayers, thankful to God that they were “not like other men”(v. 11).
On the other end, “the tax collector, standing far off would not even lift up his eyes to heaven”(v.13). In humility, the tax collector mentioned nothing but his self, knowing and acknowledging that he is a sinner. He says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”(v. 13).
Jesus continues to say the tax collector, the admitted sinner, the one who couldn’t even lift his eyes to heaven, is justified! Jesus sums up the parable, saying, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted”(v.14).
God justified humility, not arrogant boastfulness. May we humbly boast that we are sinners in need of God’s grace and mercy so we may boast in Christ alone!
My Prayer: Lord, may we come to you willing to admit our sins, reliant on your mercy alone! May we not come to you comparing ourselves to those around us, but rather knowing our sin has separated us from you and apart from your mercy and grace, we are nothing. We are considered righteous and justified because of your mercy alone! Amen.