Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 30
Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV)
A Pharisee and tax collector pray
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."
Today's scripture reminds me of the importance of how we chose to pray. In the case of the Pharisee, he prayed as if it was "all about him." He said I thank you that I am not like other people. I fast...I give...Do you notice how much he is talking about himself and his greatness?
In the case of the tax collector he prayed from a different perspective. He prayed as if it was all about GOD. He said, "GOD, be merciful to me, a sinner..."
We definitely want to be careful about who we chose to exalt as we lift our voices to heaven. Truly it is all about GOD. God who made us! God who sustains us! God who saved us by giving Jesus to die on the cross to make atonement for our sin and gift us with eternal life! God who resurrected Jesus in victory and sent forth the Holy Spirit to equip and empower the church! God who provides everything that we need...
Pride is a dangerous friend; but humility will always be a blessing!
Today, let us all take a moment to pray with the tax collector, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner..."
Let us pray: Oh God! You are wonderful! You are good! You are merciful! Please forgive me, for I have sinned against you in word, thought, and deed--by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart, I have not loved my neighbors as myself. Please forgive me and fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I may share the good news with everyone that I meet. I pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.