Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people — cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The difference between these two men was vast, but not for the reason the Pharisee thought. No, the difference between these two men was not their outward actions or words, but their hearts. One of these men, the tax collector, knew he was sinful and needed mercy, forgiveness, and grace. The other, the outwardly religious guy, thought he deserved to be honored by God. In fact, only one of these men knew about grace; that was the humble and forgiven man. Jesus reminds us that our faith isn’t about religiously pretentious games, but about our humble response to the God who has given us everything in Christ.
Father, forgive me for I am a sinner. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
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