“The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. I fast two days a week, and I give you a tenth of all my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’ I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For all who make themselves great will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be made great.” Luke 18:11-14 GNT
Some words of “thanks”, may not really be thanks at all. The Pharisee used the words, but in his heart he was anything but truly thankful. We see that he is filled with pride and self righteousness. He is just happy that he is not like that miserable other guy. He is much better than him. But this is not true gratitude. It is pride being given a license to flourish. We might not believe we have any traits of this pharisee, but the truth is, self-righteousness is far more prevalent in our lives than we might like to think. We are a society that mistakes good people for godly people all too often. We forget that our goodness and righteous acts cannot save us. And if our heart has not been converted, these very acts can become a stumbling block preventing us from seeing the truth about who we really are. We don’t want to be associated with the tax collector but we would rarely consider ourselves as a pharisee either.
What seems to be the dominating issue here is that one man has a sense of entitlement. The Pharisee felt entitled to certain things because of what he did. His “good actions” meant that he should get good results. After all, he wasn’t like that other guy who was so vile. He felt entitled to all the good that life had. Surely God would hear his prayers. After all, he was such a good guy.
However, the tax collector did not have a sense of entitlement. He did not feel entitled to anything, but he demonstrated through his humility that he felt honoured. Honoured to get to come to God, honoured that he would be heard, honoured that one so low could be recognized by one so high. He did not come with pride and express false gratitude, but he came with humility and expressed sincere gratitude. The result was his debt was paid. God heard the truly humble and grateful heart.
Can I truly be grateful for something I feel entitled to? Will I not feel more gratitude towards something that I feel honoured to have in my life? Especially when I really don’t deserve it?
Today, I am grateful that I am debt free. The debt I owed was too much for me, but my cry for help was heard. The One so high became so low just for me. I am grateful that my goodness does not qualify me but His sacrifice for me does. If this depended on me, I would remain lost. I am thankful that He loves me enough to challenge the deepest places in me and to call the hidden self righteous attitudes to bow and to humble themselves before Him. I am thankful that He doesn’t give up, but sticks with me even when the pharisee in me rises up. He reminds me, that truth will continue to liberate me, as I allow it to act in my life.
Susan Craig says:January 31, 2015 at 3:43 am
How many times do we think we are praying to God when we are just talking to ourselves?? Lifting up ourselves instead of the Savior who makes access to God possible?? Or lifting up our own ego so that we can make ourselves feel better than others?? I am thankful for the times God has brought moments into my life that were humbling for me-moments that reminded me of how unworthy I truely am to recieve His blessings. Reminders that salvation is undeserved-that it is all of grace are needed to keep our pride from rising up to take away the credit from Him who died for us. He is the Savior and we are the sinner. Thank you Jesus for humbling yourself to take on the form of a servant and became the sacrificial lamb enduring the punishment that I deserve. Remind me Lord that I have nothing to bring to your alter but my brokenness and guilt and shame. Jesus gave up everything for me-Thankyou,Thankyou,Thankyou-never enough sacrifices of praise to bring to my King,my redeemer,my God!!!! Lord be merciful to me,a wretched sinner.
Pat McRae says:January 31, 2015 at 12:00 pm
OUCH!! How many times in my life have I been the Pharisee! Oh, I may not of declared it out loud for all to hear, but I have in my heart and to a friend allowed a critical spirit to speak lofty thoughts about myself and negative thoughts about someone else. That spirit of pride could always find fault so I could be exalted. And that judgmental spirit loved to be loosed to confer with pride and miss critical.
So today I do not point my finger.
Instead I bow my head in humble submission and thanks to God for His miracle working power in me. Now instead of criticizing the one in sin for not coming out of that place, I remember, there go if it were not for His marvellous Holy Spirit holding my hand and leading me out. And when that spirit that likes to judge raises its ugly head I remember these words “Judge not, that you be not judged”. I only see the physical actions, I have no idea of all the things that this person has gone through to get to this point in life or what they they might still need to go through or be going through. It is my privilege to pray for them and allow God to be God! He sees the situation from the beginning to the end and He has the answer already worked out. He definitely does not need my $0.02 worth of info or advice. Oh how I hate pride!
🙁 It has robbed me of so much over the years. When I think ‘I am all that and a bag of chips’ I know I am in dangerous territory and I had better plant my knees on the ground and be like the publican, crying out for mercy and forgiveness. Yes I am a Pharisee more often then I would like to admit but thank God my big brother, Jesus, stands up when I kneel and says those beautiful words to my Daddy “Father forgive her she has no idea what she has done.” For I truly believe our sins hurt so many more people then just us. Those sins cause waves in the spiritual realm that cause concerns for many.
Today I am thankful my loving Father has reminded me that He is at working exchanging spirits if I will let Him. Instead of criticizing,He gives me compassion, instead of being judge and jury He gives me a powerful prayer that will loose the bonds and set the captive free and instead of pride in myself and what I can do, He has given me a love that recognizes and rejoices in all He is doing in me and for me and through me.
The work is not finished, the construction signs are still up but they have been moved further down the road, closer to the perfect Daddy look alike. His mercy and grace our mine today.
Thank You Jesus for Calvary! 🙂 🙂
Sue Holmes says:January 31, 2015 at 11:46 pm
This one hits home. The pharisee had two problems. One was old fashioned and all too common pride/self sufficiency. The other was short sightedness. I’ve been that pharisee and still am at times.
The pharisee lost sight of his neediness. There is a lot of ‘I’ in the pharisee’s confession. He based his worthiness on his accomplishments, losing sight of the fact that those accomplishments were mere garbage compared to what is needed to be in right standing with God. He also seemed quite pleased with these accomplishments … fasting, tithing, generousity, and truthfulness. But he didn’t know the God of truth. He didn’t know true Truthfulness.
How often I am guilty of not recognizing my neediness. Too often I have developed a repetitive muscle strain from trying to pat myself on the back. Thankfully, my Father taps on my shoulder, reminds me of who I am and who I am not. He keeps me from beleiving my own propaganda.
I also have been guilty, like the pharisee, of having a skewed picture of my brother or sister in Christ. I’ve all too often looked at the immediate rather than stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. I miss seeing individuals from God’s point of view. I miss seeing the before and after. Hopefully I am getting better at avoiding that pitfall. I’m blessed by a Spiritual family and leadership that reminds me of the path of grace. A reminder that what I see my brother dealing with at the time is but a snapshot of this eternity that we are living in. When I see that, I can no longer judge my brother or sister by the moment that my carnal self would love to cling to.
I love the picture of the tax collector. One of the most despised members of society. One hated by his own people. He knew his short-comings. In fact, he knew better than to ‘sugar-coat’ them before God. This man knew his own unworthiness … he knew humility.
Our God honours humility. This whole passage can be summed up by Proverbs 3:34, “He mocks proud mockers, but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.”
The Apostle Peter knew this well. He proudly challenged Christ when told by Christ that all the disciples would dessert him. Peter’s words, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35) must have been ringing loud in his ears when he saw Christ being led away by the soldiers while Peter himself denied knowledge of his friend. And yet days later when Peter had been humbled Christ himself lifted Peter up. He knew Peter’s weaknesses and He loved him anyway. No wonder Peter exhorted the readers of his epistle to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
Like the tax collector, Peter knew the grace of God that comes thru humility. He experienced the ‘lifting up’ of God.
Tonight, as I reflect, I am thankful for the ‘lifting up’ of God that comes from humility. I am thankful for Spiritual leadership that reminds me that without Christ I am fighting a losing battle, but with Christ anything is possible. I am thankful for brothers & sisters in Christ who remind me that this life is a journey. This journey has many pot holes and stumbling blocks along the way but it also has an abundance of grace and mercy available to those who recognize their need and are willing to step up to the table to receive. I am thankful for the mercy and grace that I have received … it has flowed in abundance and continues to. 🙂