Saturday, June 5, 2010

Are you a Pharisee or a Tax Collector?

9To 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. 11The 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. 12I 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." (Luke 18:9-14)

In this parable, Jesus brings to light the difference between man's idea of discipleship and God's idea of discipleship. We cannot follow in the footsteps of Jesus on our own merrit. We must first recognize our need for forgiveness of our own sinfulness and ask for Jesus' help and guidence.
Jesus told this parable “to some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else”. It remains as a warning to us who trust in ourselves to be without sin and who despise others for their sinfulness. This parable reveals and teaches a lesson of great importance in order for us to realize that God knows our character and purpose when we come before Him in prayer. God knows the contents of our hearts and is not fooled by the words we may say in prayer.
The Pharisee is exposed as a self-righteous person. The Pharisee because of his ego and pride is deceived into believing that God is pleased with him. His prayer starts out like thanksgiving for what God has done, but ends up as praise for what he has done for God. Sadly, in his own eyes he believes that he is better than others. He brags about all he does beyond what is required and that as a religious man he has done everything that is right.

In contrast we notice that the tax collector's prayer to God is filled with humility and in repentance for sin; and he desires God’s mercy. He acknowledged that he was a sinner guilty before God and that he relies and is dependent only upon the mercy and grace of God. The tax collector comes to the temple realizing that God is a Holy, majestic and an all-powerful being. This is revealed in the manner the tax collector approaches; comes with timidity, from a distance, not lifting his eyes to heaven and in humility. The tax collector has no doubt that he is in need of God's assistance to do what is right. He knows that he is nothing without God.

This parable deals with the content of the heart as one prays. It serves as a lesson for all who come with the attitude of the Pharisee who comes before God prideful of his own abilities. He feels superior to others because in the eyes of the world, he is doing everything right. The dangerous thing about pride is we trust in our own abilities rather than God’s. Also it leads us to look down on others whom God loves and who are also created in God's own image.
Unfortunately this has crept into the church, among Christians and in ministry. This parable serves to remind us that just because we may be ministers, it does not make us superior to those who are not; rather it shows that we are all in need of God’s grace and mercy and He honors those who realize this truth. 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner',is not just a prayer for those who we look down upon, but for all of us.

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

1 comment:

  1. It is written Satan has deceived the whole world until the heel of time when a woman shall bruise him by exposing his lies Gen 3:15 check out the bruising of Satan and the true love of God for all at
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