Today we talked about the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. The story is found in Luke 18:9-14. It is a message with meaning for us all.
The pharisee was thanking God that we wasn't like the other guy. You know, the um, tax collector. No, he was a person who tithed, fasted and upheld the work of the church. He thinks that he has nothing in common with the tax collector and seems to view himself as a "better" person.
On the other hand, the tax collector didn't even feel worthy to look up to heaven. The tax collector didn't compare himself with anyone else.Instead, his humble prayer was to simply acknowledge his place as a sinner and to beg for mercy. He was acknowledging his brokenness and asking to come into a right relationship with Christ.
The news is that many of us are guilty of standing with the pharisee at some point in our lives. Society generally looks down on those who live in poverty, have physical or mental health issues or who dress the "wrong" way.
Many of us have also been in the position of acknowledging that we're broken sinners saved by grace. When we ask God to enter our lives we're telling Him that we're in need of salvation and ask him to hear our plea. He does.
Forgiveness from God is the only way to get into heaven. We're not worthy. It's not something that we can do for ourselves. All we have to do is ask for the gift and it is given to us.
God came for both the pharisee and the tax collector. He came for you and for me. It is easy for us to judge the pharisee but we shouldn't. We don't know how much grace it took for him to pray or be willing to serve in the church. God may have been working on his heart for years or days. We don't know and we shouldn't judge.
We also don't know how much grace it took for the tax collector to ask for mercy. Was it years? Decades? Hours? The scripture doesn't say.
What we do know is that God loves us whether we are the tax collector or the pharisee. At one time or another, we are both. Our task is to accept God's love and share it with others in the best way that we can.
Acknowledging our brokenness is the first place to start. That puts us on the track of becoming the person that God wants us to be. We may not get there in this life but, we can try.
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