"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'This is the second part of six I will be writing and posting. Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts as well.
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:9-14
What a picture of true worship and yet we sometimes forget that proud and condescending attitudes of worship are unacceptable. This passage of scripture describes two people worshiping God in two different ways. Typically the Pharisee would be viewed as the "good guy" and the tax collector the "evil guy," but Jesus describes a scene that might surprise some.
The Pharisee followed all the rules and was proud of it. He tells God, "I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." These are all "good things" to do, but in these things, is the Pharisee honoring God? I would say he is only doing them to look good, play the part, bragging about all that he as done and judging others.
The contrast is the tax collector. Tax collectors were often viewed in the negative light, because many collected taxes for the government and added there own fees; robbing from those who paid taxes. The tax collector went to the temple, but "stood at a distance," probably because he felt unworthy. The tax collector is humbled before God and cries out, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." His body language and prayer indicate true repentance for the sins he committed. He doesn't make God a list, but confesses he is a sinner and Jesus tells his followers the tax collector, "went home justified before God."
Humility is rare in our culture. We focus on ourselves, our actions and even our popularity. These actions effect the way we treat one another and worship God. If we are not focused and humbled concerning our lives, but instead looking at others and comparing ourselves, than Jesus says you are not justified.
We are called to be humble and present ourselves in a real manner towards God and one another. I pray that each of us can read, meditate and soak in this amazing picture of worship Christ shares with his followers in Luke 18.