Saturday: March 21, 2020
Reference text: Luke 18:9-14
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Why did the Pharisee in this parable go to the temple to pray? To say thank you? That appears the main intention but even his words suggest his thank you was spoken from a place of pride, from a place where he deemed himself better than everybody else. He stood before the God of heaven and earth boasting. In his prayer, his heart was nowhere lifted up to God, only his ego was presented. How do we tell? Because he came to let God know that he was doing okay by himself and didn’t need anything from Him.
The tax collector on the other hand comes wearing his heart on his sleeve as he approached God. He presented his heart to God showing a complete dependence on his mercy and providence. The magnificat, Mary’s song of praise has in it ‘He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away (Luke 1:53). That is exactly what happens with the two men.
The Pharisee came showing off His riches but would return deflated because he will realise that the flamboyant flaunting of his wealth, ‘his self-righteousness in this instance’, was nowhere near what it should be. The tax collector who came in hungry for mercy, left having received that and more. Beloved, we might think we are better than everybody else and so stand in a better place, but we should not forget to stop and think about ‘where we would be if not for God?
It is only then we will realise that we are really not perfectly placed to flaunt our self-righteousness, but are continually dependent on God’s grace. When we really get there, to the point where we an boast, it is God himself who will boast about us like He said about Job: ‘there is no man like him’. We won’t have to say anything.
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