Confident in your own righteousness?

Scripture reading for March 27th:  Luke 18

“To some who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayer about himself:  ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”  But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'”  (Luke 18:9-13)

Jesus had a way about telling stories that got a hold of the hearts of people.  As we listen to the story, we can identify with the characters in the story and the story ends up reading us!  This is the nature of Jesus’ parables.  Jesus had noted that some ‘religious’ folks were not coming to the temple before God with the right attitude.  Some felt that they were doing God a favor and boasting that they did not do some of the bad things that they knew the Law of God commanded.  Religion always likes to do works and boast about it, But God looks at the heart.  Pride in our accomplishment leads to self-righteousness and a judgmental attitude that holds us in sin.

Jesus pointed out that the tax collector went home justified in God’s eyes.  “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Luke 18:14) The person who humbles himself before God ends up being justified by his faith in God’s mercy. (2nd Corinthians 5:21)   The one who exalts himself gets no reward!  Lord, help me to stay humble!

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