Without Mercy All Is Lost
“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 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. 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
Wow, Jesus was very straightforward here, even to the point of directing this parable right at those who were acting smug and holier than thou towards others. With pinpoint accuracy Jesus called out those who were full of themselves and lacking in grace, mercy and Spiritual maturity.
The Pharisee exalted himself by comparing himself and his self righteousness to others who were obviously sinning. Then he listed his qualifications (fasting, tithing) as if he were applying for a position with God. He totally misses that the only standard we are judged by is Jesus and that nobody ever really measures up without His abundant mercy and grace.
The tax collector was totally humble in approaching God, fully knowing that he did not measure up to God’s standard. Then instead of listing his good deeds he called himself a sinner and simply asked for God’s mercy, knowing full well that his life falls way short of God’s best.
Too many times in my life I have been the self righteous Pharisee, showcasing my best attributes and minimizing my sin. Hopefully, this occurs less often as I age and mature in Christ; but it still happens at times. I can all too easily be a smug bastard and look down on others as I compare my good works to theirs. Deep in my heart though I am not that person, but in my insecurity there is so much fear and pride that I get sidetracked and focus on works instead of grace. Sometimes I think that I cannot trust God, His grace, or anyone else; and that I need to earn acceptance and forgiveness on my own. I know this is warped thinking, but I think it comes from my childhood and never being able to trust my natural father because of the way he raped, molested and abused me. Trust is a MAJOR issue for anyone who has been abused. In my heart I know I can trust Jesus, but in my mind at times I still struggle. So here I am this very deeply flawed individual very much in need of grace and healing. My only hope? God have mercy on me, a sinner?
Love and ……
Kirk Out !