What’s your attitude before God? Are you confident in approaching God because you believe you are righteous and worthy? Or maybe better than your neighbour who is evil or who makes bad choices? The idea that we are better or worthy is our problem today…
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.”
Are you thankful you aren’t like them? Whoever they are. Whom do you look down your nose at? The sinner? The evil? The self-righteous? I’m thankful, God, that I am not like them…
Notice that the tax collector was so humble before God that he couldn’t even get close. He didn’t feel worthy. He wouldn’t even look up to heaven. Have mercy on me, a sinner, he begged.
What’s your attitude before God? Are you confident in approaching God because you believe you are righteous and worthy? Do you fast? Do you attend church regularly? Do you give to the church faithfully? Do you read your Bible consistently?
So what? That’s what the Pharisee did in our story.
The idea that we are better, or that we are worthy, is the problem. Let’s put it in eternal perspective. Our worthiness is not what gives us standing before God. There is nothing we can do which will curry God’s favour toward us in eternity. Jesus is who makes us worthy.
The sacrifice of Jesus earned our forgiveness before God. And when we receive Jesus as our saviour, God looks at us through Jesus’ sacrifice. God’s gift of grace is not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Be careful, therefore, to be humble and seek God’s mercy as sinners before him. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you,” (Romans 12:3).