Luke 18:9-14 NIV
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.”
Very often when performing a funeral of someone I do not know, a friend or relative begins to tell me all the good things the person had done. I hear about all the good organizations they belonged to and what good the organizations had done.
I think most of us want to think we are pretty good citizens of the earth and that God likes us.But then I look at what it takes to please a perfect God. I know that not only my actions, but my thoughts have to be right all the time. I think about times when I could have done good things but didn’t get around to doing them, and I just shake my head. How could God like me when I have messed up so many times and in so many ways?
Jesus told a parable about someone who was confident in his own righteousness, and who was apparently a pretty good guy. He had done all the right things according to his position in life and perhaps even beyond. From an observational standpoint this guy had done it all right. Strangely enough that’s not the person Jesus commended. Instead, he commended the person who said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
That’s the person I want to be, and that’s actually the person I am. I am a sinner. I realize this, and I throw myself on the mercy of God. I trust and believe that he has declared me to be righteous through the life and death of Jesus, and that’s all I need. I am blessed to stand right with God, humbled and exalted.
Thank you Jesus for your incredible gift of forgiveness. God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.