The Gospel Luke 18:9-14
Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, `God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, `God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you; this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Let us Pray: Today we ask for Your help to walk humbly with our brothers and sisters. It is all too easy for us to fall prey to our flesh and to walk in arrogance, but pride causes division, and we desire peace. Lord, help us to humble ourselves in order that we do not let the lies of the enemy overtake us, rather, help us to count ourselves as equals with one another. It is then that we will stop attempting to be better than others, and we can love their hearts for the unique person You made them to be. Help us to value one another in this humble spirit so that we may live to the fullest. In Jesus name, Amen
This parable is about pride and humility. In many arenas of today’s world, humility is a quality that often is not appreciated. Every day we hear from the political candidates who are running for office. They tell us of their strengths and the vision that they have for our country as they demean each other. Some of the candidates are humble, yet other candidates believe they have all the answers for our country. Humility is a quality that all leaders need to possess, at least to some degree. No one person has all of the answers or all of the wisdom. This is true also in families, churches, organizations, teams, corporations, and in any group of people who come together for a purpose. Humility does not mean that we demean ourselves or pretend to be less than we are. True humility means that we recognize and acknowledge our limitations as well as our gifts and our talents. No one person has all the answers. Humble people will freely ask for advice or wisdom and will acknowledge when they need help. Jesus does not want us to demean ourselves, nor does he want us to exalt ourselves. Jesus has gifted each and every person with many gifts and talents; however, Jesus also realizes that we also have limitations and faults. We need to be mindful of when it is time to share our gifts and talents, and when you could use some words of wisdom or insight from another person. Give thanks for the many gifts you have to share and give thanks for the many people who share their insights and talents with you. Together, we can enrich our world and make it a loving and peaceful place! Today as the audience of Jesus, is He going to shock us? His audience is likely expecting the Pharisee to be the prime example of what we should look like. After all, no one expected the low-life tax collector who betrayed his own people for money to be the prime example to follow. What did you expect? The two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” Luke 18:10-12. Look at this prayer that the Pharisee prayed, who’s he praying to? He’s not praying to God; he’s praying to himself. His entire prayer centers around how great he is and how terrible everyone else is, especially the tax collector. Right now, how many times a day are we hearing that as one political candidate trashes the other. Trying to make them look superior and definitely demeaning the other. Look at the tax collector’s prayer: “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.” Luke 18:13. While the Pharisee used his prayer to beat down others, the tax collector beats his own chest, further showing that he understands his own sinfulness. And when the tax collector prays, he doesn’t pray to himself, he prays to God. It’s a simple prayer in which he recognizes his only hope is for God to save him. The Pharisee used his prayer to elevate himself as the righteous. The tax collector used his prayer to elevate himself as the sinner. Ironically both men got what they prayed for. The tax collector humbly asked for mercy, and he received it. The Pharisee asked for nothing because he thought that he already had it all, and he received nothing.
We all need God’s mercy and grace. But unless we humble ourselves, we will never see it or receive it. When we pray, let us always seek forgiveness for our sins, especially the sins of the heart such as pride, arrogance, jealousy, and greed. Moreover, as we pray, let us never forget to thank God for His amazing grace and boundless mercy.
Remember “for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Let us Pray: O God, the strength of those who humbly confess their sin and place their hope in you, save us from vain displays of righteousness, and give us grace to keep faith with the true humility of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.