AM I A PHARISEE OR A PUBLICAN?

JAN 05 Do you remember the parable Jesus told about the Pharisee and the publican who went up to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14)? Well, as Jesus told the story the Pharisee prayed and thanked God that he was not like other men:extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like the publican. Whereas, when the publican prayed, he would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his chest and said, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Jesus went on to say that it was the      publican, not the Pharisee who went home justified that day. This parable vividly teaches us the need for humility. We gain nothing by comparing or measuring ourselves against others. None of us can approach God with confidence based upon our own merits and moral goodness. We all must recognize that we are sinners in need of God's forgiveness. Now I doubt very seriously that anyone of us would dare approach the throne of God in prayer as did this Pharisee. We've learned the lesson of this parable well. However, that is not to suggest that the attitude of this Pharisee is dead. Have you ever made statements similar to the following: I might not have liked it either, but I would have never said what she said... If I was going to be that late, I would have at least had the decency to call... I would have never gotten so angry over something so small... I may not be perfect, but I've never... If that were me, I wouldn't have had any difficulty saying, "No thanks, I'm a Christian"... Can you believe what so-and-so did? I would never think of being that cruel... I suppose I could continue with many more examples, because they are things we say and hear so often. But aren't these statements similar to what the Pharisee said? While certainly, none of us would have the audacity to approach God in prayer and say these things, we may find ourselves frequently saying these kind of things in other contexts. Do you think that God is only concerned about our attitude between "Our Father who art in heaven..." and "...in Jesus name, amen."? Let's be more careful about our attitude. Let's make sure that we don't attempt to exalt ourselves over others while looking at others with contempt. Let's stop measuring ourselves against others. And let's remember that God is not only concerned about our attitude during prayer, but at all times.


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