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Have Mercy, Lord.

Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

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.”


Luke 18:9-14 New Living Translation (NLT)


Accepting who we are to God is the first step in becoming who we can be with God. As we follow Christ, we are all sinners turned saints by grace. None of us are righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). We are saved and justified before God through the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only He is worthy and only He will be able to open the Book of Life (Revelation 5:9). It is humbling to know that even as God gave Jesus all authority, He uses His power to love us. His mercy endures forever. All we have to do is believe Him, follow Him and ask for His mercy in truth from our hearts.


The need to be more, do more, and have more than others can plant seeds of pride in our hearts that grow into weeds that choke our humility. The tendency to exalt ourselves above those we see as beneath us keeps us from receiving the grace given freely to all who trust in the Lord for help to live in this world. All this is temporary. Nothing we are or accomplish here outside of living out our faith in Christ is permanent.


We have all met a "Pharisee" or two. They are the guys who toot their own horns about how good they are, while condemning others to hell. They are the ones who present their sin as being less offensive to God than the sin of some others. Let's say a prayer for them: Lord, have mercy on these people too.


Stay humble and thankful. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. Our merciful Savior will exalt us in due time as we beat our chests in sorrow and confess we need His mercy to live.


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