DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME
LUKE 18:9-14 NKJ
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Jesus is using parables to "rattle the cages" of the Pharisees. His clever use of parables allowed Jesus to address groups and issues without calling anyone out individually.
In today's parable, Jesus is contrasting two of the Jewish society's extremes. The extremely religious Pharisees and the extremely sinful tax collectors. He could not have chosen a greater contrast.
Jesus was calling out those individuals who were confident in their right-ness and holiness. And they also despised, showed scorn and contempt, for other people.
This Pharisee's prayer is a lesson in self-righteousness. Thanking God that he was not a sinner. He was not like other men and not like the tax collector who was also in the temple praying.
He went on to list all the wonderful works that he did, including fasting and tithing.
The tax collector came to pray with such a heart of repentance, asking for God's mercy on his sinfulness.
Jesus did not criticize the Pharisee for avoiding sin, fasting, and tithing. There is nothing wrong with those things. In fact, they are all good.
No, the problem was that the Pharisee exalted himself. He lifted himself up and put down other people. He was bragging about not being like those awful sinners as if he was actually perfect. And giving God no credit.
The tax collector recognized that he was a sinner and humbly asked God for forgiveness. And Jesus said the tax collector was the one who did things the right way and was forgiven.
When I say don't try this at home, I am attempting to use humor to make a serious point.
We are saved by God's grace, not by our efforts. Our difference with other people who engage in sin and wrongdoing is God's mercy and the work He has done in our hearts. So, we are in no position to look down on and compare ourselves with others. However, this is so easy for Christians to slip into. Looking down on others, often forgetting what we were like before Christ.
Have you been able to avoid some big glaring sins and live a good solid Christian life? If so, thank God for His mercy, and do not waste time comparing yourself with others.
Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and saving grace. Without you, I would be so lost.