"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Luke 18:10 NIV
(Read Luke 18:10-14)
In this parable Jesus presents us with two men, presenting themselves to God. Two men that have two different attitudes about themselves before God. The first one says “God, I thank you that am not like other men”, I am religious. The second says “God, have mercy on me, a sinner”, I am hopeless. Two men with two totally different heart attitudes. One exalts himself before God, the other humbles himself before God.
When I read this parable I think of how spiritually dangerous it is to think that we are better off than others simply because we put on the appearance of righteousness. When we exalt ourselves in our minds and before God because we believe just because we don't participate in certain sins, we aren't guilty of any. We cannot justify ourselves before God, He does the justifying. Jesus makes this statement; "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 18:14 NIV Jesus says the man that admitted that he was a sinner is the one that went home justified. He had come before God in humility and was rewarded for it. One man prayed about himself, the other prayed for himself. God heard the latter.
Most of us probably don't pray the way the Pharisee did. But, we may behave in the same way when we look down on others for things they do. The interesting thing about our behavior is we have this attitude toward non-christians a lot of times. We have this strange idea that if we point out our religiosity and the sinful behavior of non-christians it will some how make them want to be like us. If you have ever acted this way toward someone, did it win them over? Probably not. Most likely it sent them in the opposite direction.
Our job as Christians is to win people over to Christ. The way to win people over to Christ is to present Him in our actions. Jesus humbled himself all the time. Just the fact that He came and lived among us shows us how humble He was. Jesus didn't say look at me and how good I am. He went to people where they were and helped them out of the mess they were in. He showed them mercy, love and compassion, not a judgmental attitude. Let us remember these three words in our interactions with others: mercy, love and compassion. This is what we all need, because as Paul said “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 NIV Not one of us guiltless when comes to sin. If we are in Christ we have experienced mercy, love and compassion. Let others experience these things in us. Humble yourself and remember God does the justifying, not you.
© 2012 Leo J. Woodman