Luke and The Lost
We all do it. We compare ourselves to others. Admit it. We compare our stuff next to their stuff. We often say “at least” at the beginning of our comparison statements. At least MY yard is mowed. At least I have enough to feed my kids. At least my car is working and gets me to work. At least my house is clean enough for family. At least my work pays better than his. At least I pay my taxes. At least I go to church unlike my neighbors who sleep in. At least I know the address of my church. At least I give something when the offering basket is passed. At least I helped in the nursery once. At least I brought a pie AND brownies to the carry in. At least I have….and the “at least” list goes on and on.
Jesus just happens to have a story (imaging that!) about this very “at least” problem of comparing sins. Listen in…that can’t be us, can it?
Luke 18, The Message
The Story of the Tax Man and the Pharisee
9-12 He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
What do we learn?
–The Pharisee posed and prayed, looking up. The tax man looked down in humility, feeling unworthy to even look up to God. Mm. Do we pose when we pray?
–Sin is sin. We must stop playing games. We must stop thinking and saying aloud, “My sin is not as bad as your sin.”
–All have sinned and fall short. Only those who truly realize it will be saved.
–Comparing one sin to another’s sin is a human effort to lift ourselves higher to God when this act actually brings shame to us.
–Honest evaluation, sincere repentance and humility before God asking for His mercy and grace is what God requires.
–He sees our hearts. Why hide what He already knows?
–Comparing our life to another is a bad measure.
–There is only one comparison that is healthy. Let us compare our lives to the Jesus, the perfect standard for living. Then we can humbly repent of those things that break God’s heart in us.
–Then, like the repentant, humble tax man, we can be saved when we ask, “Forgive me, a sinner.”
–Once more…stop comparing! Focus on God. Follow Jesus. Be lead by His Holy Spirit.
–“If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” –Jesus
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.” Micah 6:8, NIV
Dear Heavenly Father,
I repent of “at least”. Forgive me, a sinner, for all the ways I try to compare myself, my talk and my walk with other’s. My focus in keenly on You this morning. Thank you for your word that convicts, teaches, keeps us humble, and extends mercy all at the same time. Thank you for your forgiveness that is so generous. Thank you for peace that comes from not comparing ourselves to others. In Jesus Name, Amen.