‘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.”’ (v13) Luke 18:9–14
Our age celebrates self-confidence and self-help: ‘I’ am the source of my inner angst and many teach that the choices ‘I’ make determine ‘my’ success or failure. While there may lie a kernel of truth here, God’s kingdom turns such popular wisdom upside down.
Each of us must learn to make our way in life. But while some seem to be naturally at an advantage in many areas; others, through lack of opportunity, or sickness or disability, have an apparent unfair disadvantage.
This again reveals God’s immense grace. For in God’s sight we are all equal. He sees the condition of our spiritual state and is entirely disinterested in what society deems our advantage or disadvantage.
The fullness of life Jesus describes is making peace with God and serving others. Here we realise our purpose. The challenge lies in finding the humility to accept ourselves for who and how we are, whilst receiving God’s love and affirmation.
My pride was crushed when moving from a platform evangelist to a domestic carer. I initially focused upon my disappointment and frustration. I cared only for myself! Yet God reminded me that I was dependent upon His care, secured at great price.
I came to see my new role as a gift, and indeed my core purpose. I recognised how much my pride and self-interest had driven me. I had to decide to move from standing with the Pharisee to taking my place alongside the tax collector. The process hurt, but it healed.
Related Scripture to Consider: Prov. 22:1–11; Micah 6:6–8; John 10:1–10; Rom. 2:1–11.
An Action to Take: Humility is constantly assaulted by an inner desire to justify ourselves. The tax collector kept it simple. He was disliked within society, yet loved by God, and comfortable with an honest assessment of his need.
A Prayer to Make: ‘Lord, help me to live with no need to justify myself but simply to declare, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. Amen.’
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