He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 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!’ 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.” Luke 18:9-14 Does this parable bother you? It bothers me. It bothers me because I can be righteous like the Pharisee. I can do all the right things, and then go and boast about it. I tithe, I preach, I do acts of righteousness, and I can be arrogant before God and men. Yes, I am bothered by this Parable, because I know I am not the one who walks away justified in my arrogance. Psalm 51:7 says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” And why is humility so prized? Why is a broken spirit a sacrifice to God? Because there is no room in an arrogant heart for anything but self-praise. Loved ones, we have no victory, no purpose, no life outside of Christ. If we think we’re okay, we tell him, as the Pharisees did, “we don’t need you, we’re fine where we’re at, my devout acts are enough to save me.” The thing is, they’re not. We need to be like the tax collector, fist clenched, beating on our chests, asking “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” I need God’s mercy, I need His love, I need His compassion, I need His leading and guidance. If you’re being honest, don’t you need them as well? Love ones, let’s stop trying to justify ourselves, and honestly examine ourselves in the mirror of scripture, and ask for God’s mercy, begging for Him to change us from the inside out until we reflect Christ in all things. Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.