Hos 6:1-6 Lk 18:9-14
Click here for today’s readings.
Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 18:9-14 is a parable about self righteousness verses humility. Parts of this parable must have seemed almost counter-cultural to those who listened to Jesus’ words. How could a morally challenged Tax Collector be right with God through prayer and not a righteous Pharisee?
In reflecting on these verses, I have found myself in both of the characters Jesus introduces us to. First, in the Pharisee, I have to admit there are times in comparing myself to others, where I have fallen into the trap of self righteousness. Isn’t it so much easier to look at the faults of others versus taking a real look at my own sinful nature? Or to feel a sense of pride in what I’ve accomplished – maybe I’ve been making it to church on a regular basis, helping the less fortunate, studying and reading the Bible. The problem is that whenever we focus on the “I”, we turn our focus inward and away from God. Our dependence shifts from God to ourselves.
Notice how the Tax Collector approaches his prayer in humble repentance. He is off in the corner of the Temple, head down, overwhelmed with the grief of his sin. Maybe he was too harsh in collecting taxes or kept some extra money back for himself. Whatever the circumstances, God hears his plea for forgiveness and mercy. Mercy is what our God is about. He pursues us while we run away. He heals us when we are broken. He loves us first and foremost. Not that we deserve it or because there is anything we can do to earn it – it is a free gift. The Tax Collector has come to true repentance and realizes he is lost on his own. When we come to God in this same way He is able to work in us a make us our truest self. Could it be that part of becoming my truest self means extending this same mercy towards others? When we are humble and allow God to work in us, anything is possible.
This parable brings me back to the fact that I can claim nothing on my own and that without God’s mercy I am lost. This is a reminder I need. Lord, help me to be like the tax collector, who in humbleness and true repentance called out ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
Director, Simon Rec Center