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The Pastor's Blog

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“Oh Lord, thank thee for allowing thy humble servant to graciously give so sacrificially to save thy destitute sinner from starving!” Note the humble-brag, the pious blarney. Lord, thank you for making me so good, so generous. Hog wash. Have you heard someone pray like that? I once heard a preacher pray three points, quote an unrelated poem, and offer a compelling invitation... I was going to walk out if he started the special music.

With the super-spiritual religious leaders in the front row, Jesus told The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: “God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.” But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted’ ” (Luke 18:9–14, CSB).

Jesus compared and contrasted the two men.

Entering the temple, the Pharisee paraded himself to center-stage, raised his hands, lifted his chin, and began his practiced, choreographed oration. The other, knowing that he was in the presence of a gloriously holy God, couldn’t stand, but fell to his knees, weeping.

One could see the sins of others, but not his own. The other, knowing his personal wreckage and ruin, begged God for mercy.

One talked to himself, about himself. The other begged God for mercy.

One bragged and boasted about his spiritual exploits. The other begged God for mercy.

One went away more self-exalted, more hateful and hypocritical, devoid of joy, overflowing with bitterness. The other went away lavishly forgiven, bathed in God’s compassion and mercy.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:6–7, CSB).

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you ... Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:8–10, CSB).

Let’s try this. “Oh, Father in Heaven. You are holy. I’m not...”


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