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The Parable of The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone 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 by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—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 all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

How are you positioning yourself before God today? The Pharisee in this passage exalted himself before God and compared himself with others. Comparison to others is not helpful. Either it makes us proud or it leads us to have low self-esteem. The tax collector in this passage does not compare himself to others. He takes a different path, he humbles himself and sees himself as God sees him as a sinner in need of God’s mercy.

Are you more likely to self-justify or repent?  The Apostle Paul says ‘My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me’. (1 Corinthians 4:4). No matter how righteous we feel or how at peace we are with something we’ve said or done, this does not mean that we are right with God. The tax collector asks for reconciliation and he gets it. The Pharisee does not believe that he needs to be reconciled with God and so he is not changed by his prayers at the temple.

Thankfully every person in the world can meet with God in prayer and be refined as they call upon the name of Jesus. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:9)

Prayer: God be merciful to me, a sinner.

Action: Take time in your prayers today to position yourself like the tax collector did and confess your sins to Him and thank Him for all that he is doing in your life through his grace and mercy.


This Thought was written by Paul Stevenson