Do you like to sing your own praises?
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone 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 by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—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 all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NIV)
High school reunions are dreaded by many. Perhaps you don’t have good memories from your time in high school, or maybe you are afraid that you haven’t been as successful as your classmates. Reunions are often a time when people gather together and sing their own praises about how successful (usually gaged by how much money they make) they have become.
In this parable, the Pharisee also sings his own praise. The Pharisee comes to temple to pray, as instructed by the Lord. But the Pharisee offers up praises to himself. Congratulating himself on all that he has done, never acknowledging the Lord. While the tax collector, a looked down upon profession then just as much as now, acknowledged that he had no right to come and stand before the Lord. The tax collector admitted that he was a sinner and needed the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy. Both men went home believing they were justified, but only one was justified before the Lord. The Pharisee was only justified in his own eyes.
God already knows all our sins, He is waiting on us to confess them, to humble ourselves before Him, earnestly seeking forgiveness. Many times, Christians attempt to skip over this part of their relationship with the Lord. To humble oneself before God is hard! It is hard to admit our faults and flaws. It is hard to honestly examine ourselves, see ourselves as we truly are, and recognize that we are not as great as we think we are.
Have you hit a plateau in your relationship with the Lord? When was the last time you stood humble before Him? The two may be related. You are the only holding yourself back from growing. The Lord is there, waiting. We are the ones standing before Him, not saying anything! When we began this journey, 2020 Vision for Christ, we admired how a tiny, pinprick of a seed grows to become a great mustard tree! Every seed needs sunlight to grow. Don’t let God’s light be blocked by pride!
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