Luke 18:9 (Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 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. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 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!’ 14 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.”
Luke has gone out of his way to highlight Jesus’ teaching on those who are “justified” in God’s eyes. It’s not the religious people, but the humble – those who are keenly aware of their need of mercy before God. The Pharisee is counting on his acts of piety to justify him, but Jesus clearly teaches that he will be disappointed. It’s a massive challenge to the thinking of Jesus’ day.
In short, this story is a warning.
I don’t think of myself as proud, particularly in relationship to my faith or piety. I’m more likely to be aware of all my shortcomings – which are many. That said, this morning I’m asking the Lord to examine my heart and show me any areas where I might be thinking too highly of myself, or deserving of God’s favor/blessing.
Dear Lord, if I have any confidence connected to my faith life let it be confidence in your grace and mercy and my acute need for both. Amen.