Luke – Doors Wide Open!
A long time ago, when our children were very small, we would ask them to pray over our meal as good training to thank God for all He has given to us. One of our little ones began to pray. And she kept on praying…She would look up to see what was on the table and thank God for each item, one by one. Folks, it took a while! The food was getting cold. The ice was melting in our tea glasses while waiting on this child to wrap it up with an amen!
I think of this and smile as I remember how she would look up and around to see what needed God’s attention. I also remember that she totally skipped thanking God for the food she didn’t like.
Jesus tells a similar story of greater importance. Two men. Two completely different prayers to God.
Luke 18, New Living Translation
Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 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! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “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.’ 14 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.”
THINK ABOUT IT…
Those who come to the Table of God and demand attention drawn to themselves will be heard with disappointment, if heard at all. First of all, we should praising God, only God, for how good He is, not thanking God for how good we think we are. Yikes! This is taking self centered attitudes to yet another disgusting level! Only God is good and perfect, merciful and gracious. We are not.
Telling God, even thanking God for all the ways we are “good” sounds like a bargaining chip to ask God for what WE want and not what is best for us. “Thank you, God that I am not like others…” Thank you God that I do…” Wow!
Do we pray like that? How selfish are our prayers to God the giver of Life?
Do we pray knowing that He is God and we are not?
Do we pray, “Here’s what I going to do, please bless me?”
Do we look around us instead of looking inward as we rank and compare our sins to others, thinking we will be in better standing with God?
Aren’t you glad Jesus told this story so we would look IN ourselves instead of looking around His Table of mercy, grace and love?
Do we thank God for what we don’t like?
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” says Paul to the Romans. (Romans 3:23)
Or do we know, without doubt, who God is and come to Him, our Lord, Savior and King in humility for our sins?
The publican knew He did not measure up when he looked inside himself. He didn’t even try to compare himself to others. He didn’t have to for he knew what he had done to others. He came to God asking for mercy as only God can give. He bowed to God in reverence and humility and honestly cried out, “I am a sinner”.
Do we pray like the publican with honesty and humility?
These are the prays God hears with mercy and honors with grace. He justifies, says Jesus, which means He forgives as only He can. It is “just-as-if” we had never sinned when God forgives. Slate wiped clean. Wow!
Know God. Know Yourself. Be honest and humble before Him. He already knows us. Ask for forgiveness. Walk humbly with Him.
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you. I am sinner saved only by your grace. I don’t deserve your mercy or grace but you give it when I am honest before you. Thank you for reminding me to always look in and not look around at the sins of others. Help me to look to you as I look in. Thank you for continually transforming our lives to be all you want us to be. I’m not there yet, but gaining ground by your power and love.
In Jesus Name, Amen