A pastor just finished his morning sermon when Ms. Jones approached him and said, "You know pastor, you are becoming one of the greatest preachers of this generation." Unfortunately he believed it.
As he was loading the kids in the car he said to his wife, "Ms. Jones thinks I am one of the greatest preachers of this generation." His wife said nothing. He decided to push it a bit. "I wonder how many great preachers there are in this generation?" To which his wife finally replied, "One less than you think!"
So hard to be humble ... even for those we assume are always humble!
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
13 "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.'
14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
How we view ourselves matters to Jesus. How we view ourselves is also noticed by God in heaven. That is the point of this parable.
In this story Jesus creates tension by the selection of the two men: a Pharisee and a tax collector. This would be the same as choosing a pastor and a thief. Culturally one is respected and the other repulsed.
That's what we see but not what God sees. When both of these men show up at church and pray only God hears them but Jesus lets us listen in.
"I'm ok. I have no needs. I've made good choices in my life. God's help might be nice but it is not necessary. I am better than others."
Remember this is not being said out loud! This is in his heart. This is how he views the world. Also notice that he does not ask God for anything. There is no request in this man's prayer.
"I'm not ok. I am needy. I've made bad decisions in my life and I take advantage of others for my own gain. God, have mercy on me ... I am one that has missed the mark."
This is also coming from the heart. This is how he views himself. Unlike the pastor in the story this guy does ask God for something ..... for mercy! This is not just a cimple request, this is a command. He is telling God that he needs mercy to make it one more day.
Jesus told this story to challenge those who were confident in their own rightness before God. The Pharisee was sure he was covered and that God was pleased with him. His basis for such confidence was his own holiness. The tax collector was not sure he was even redeemable by God.
Jesus also told this story to encourage those who were humble before God that they could be made right with Him based on what HE did and not what they did!
Not sure what we can do with this .... this is more of who we ARE not what we do.
Be sure God really knows what we are at the heart even if those at church cannot tell. This can be a good thing or not.
The one thing we can do: humble ourselves. Did you know there is no place in Scripture where God is asked to humble someone? In every case we are told to humble ourselves.
DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.