The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The 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. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13“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.’
14“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.”
I really love this passage and how it demands us to pray prayers that are REAL! I love verse 13, the guy had so much reverent fear of God… He stood at a distance to speak out to God and seek His forgiveness (which he was given)… Sometimes in our lives we think that our sin separates us from God so far that we can not even go to Him to repent for them…
There are two sides of this passage of course… but the second guy is the one I think we can learn from the most….
1. He still repented… As I said before sometimes in our lives we let sin separate us in theory past the point of forgiveness…. This guy couldn’t make it into the temple but he knew that wouldn’t stop his prayers from being heard!!!
“Therefore this is what the Lord says, ‘If you repent,I will restore you that you may serve me.'”
2. Maybe he understood the gospel... the first guy was all about how he was earning his way to heaven…. The second guy understood that Life comes through Christ, not in what we do in terms of appearance. When we truly understand the Gospel we should respond similar to this guy! We don’t deserve anything! Nothing! Not even the option of forgiveness… But because of Jesus we remember that He is our example (not other humans) and He gave it all up for us… He first loved us… Sometimes i think i/we forget the gospel and we end up paying prayers of the first guy… thinking that we can earn our way to a relationship with God… Forgetting that its God who has already opened the door for us… and in a lot of ways we end pushing Him away because its not about how we can earn salvation… Its all about what He did, He’s the HERO…
3. Honesty wins! The second guy poured his broken heart out to God… He must have done some pretty big (in his eyes) sins… But because was real with God and humbled himself before God, he was justified before God….
So… How do you pray? I know that for me I want my prayers to be honest and humble before God because that is what it means to be Real before God!