Sunday, June 24, 2012

God Justifies the Humble - Not the Perfect

Our greed has stolen from us. Our lies have deceived us. Our lust has had its way with us, and we are broken. Those around us might mock and sneer, hurling stones and insults. Yet God is love. And forgiveness is real. 

I love the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee was perfect by most measures of the law. The publican, on the other hand, had likely committed some sort of atrocity or abuse, and he knew it. Yet this passage gives hope because it confirms that God truly does "exalt" those of us who do not feel worthy for one reason or another. Just as our eyes drink in a beautiful sunrise, so our souls drink in the always-undeserved mercy that God offers. 

Luke 18:9-14 says: "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone 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 by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—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.’

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

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