Day 18 - The Pharisee and Tax Collector


There is a serious problem that has kept many people from receiving the love, acceptance, and forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers us today. This problem is PRIDE. The type of pride that we are talking about here is a false opinion of our own righteousness before God. It is only by God's forgiving grace we can come to Him, and we must recognize we are totally unworthy of the favor He shows us. When we begin to think we deserve God's mercy, or think we are better than anyone else, our pride will actually separate us from God. The correct attitude before God is humility. We are all sinners, saved by God's grace alone, and none of us has any claim to deserve anything God gives us. None of us is any better than another man.


... God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5: 5b-6)

 

    Read Luke 18: 9-14.


This parable compares the most respected and the most despised people in Israel at the time of Jesus. The Pharisee's were the righteous elite. They thought God had more respect for them because they were so much more righteous than other men. They had a habit of looking down on the "ordinary" people. In reality, their pride in their own goodness was detestable in God's eyes. The tax collectors (or "publicans," as they are also called) were despised by the Jews, in the same way a robber would be. Paying tribute to the Roman authorities was distasteful enough to the Jews anyway. But many of the tax collectors were also dishonest men, and took much more money than what they were entitled to. As a result, the Jews considered them to be among the worse kinds of sinners.


In this parable we see that all of the Pharisee's good works could not justify him before God. His prayer was lost as he commended himself in his pride. The tax collector, on the other hand, realized he was a sinner, and was

desperately in need of God's mercy. God had mercy on him because he asked for mercy!


Point to Ponder:

Some people think they will go to heaven because they are basically a "good person." We see this is not true. Trusting in our goodness is foolish pride. We must humble ourselves before God, and trust only in Jesus' sacrifice for us.