Irvin Wasswa- Tylertown Campus Pastor LHBC
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In college one time I was playing an intramural basketball game with a few of my friends. Back during this time I was as they say “a little too big for my britches” in that I was VERY confident in my skills and abilities. The other team’s best player was defending me and I hit a few jumpshots over him and let him know about it by talking quite a bit of trash. Well, that did not go over well for me. The opponent on a fast break took off for a dunk over me that just about made me want to quit basketball for good. Thankfully he missed it because I fouled him, but in that moment I was humbly reminded of the fact that there are greater players than me. Afterwards, I found out that guy actually played for the university at one point in time, which made sense as to how he was able to fly like that!
We see Jesus give a parable here in Luke 18 to a distinct group of people who had fallen victim to having haughty hearts. They were people who were well versed in knowledge of the scriptures and rituals of church life. Because they were “experts” in those things, they saw themselves as righteous and looked down on others who didn’t live according to their standards. These men were prideful, arrogant, and took their knowledge of God as them truly knowing God.
In the parable Jesus uses the example of the religious man’s prayer to the prayer of a tax collector. A tax collector in Jewish times was known as a crook and a thief. As a matter of fact there is a running joke that tax collectors were so bad that at the time they had their own separate category when being discussed in the scriptures (Tax Collectors and Sinners). Yet, Jesus said that he went him right with the Lord afterwards, not the Pharisee.
Even though the Pharisee was more wordy in his prayer, it was the Tax Collector who left right with God. Why? Because the Lord sees the heart! For the child of God this reality is important to grasp as we continue to grow and mature in the faith. The difference between the tax collector and the pharisee was the Tax Collector had a humble heart and the Pharisee had a haughty spirit. The tax collector displayed his humility in acknowledging his need for mercy, whereas the Pharisee showed his haughtiness in his pompous approach in prayer.
Humility can best be explained in this idea of thinking of yourself less. We live out that reality in understanding our need for the Lord in our everyday life and choosing to surrender to Him. We needed the Lord for salvation, we need Him for sanctification (growth in the Lord), and we need Him for service. May we never get to a point where we feel as though we can live and operate independent of the Lord. When we live that way we operate out of an attitude of pride rather than humility. Instead, let us today choose to have a heart of humility as the tax collector did, acknowledging our need for the Lord in our day to day lives. Instead of the Lord humbling us, let us choose to humble ourselves by surrendering to the Lord daily and walking in relationship with Him.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love for me. I am thankful that through repentance and faith I am a child of God! I humble myself before you today, acknowledging that I need you. Please forgive me for the times I feel as though I can operate independently of You. Help me to draw closer to You! In Jesus’ name, amen!
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”