In Luke 18: 9-14, Jesus tells the people a story about a man who thought he was better than everyone else. Both men went to the temple to pray. One of the men was a Pharisee, a member of a religious group that was very strict in obeying the Law of Moses. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself. He said, “I thank You God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. I don’t cheat; I don’t sin; and I’m certainly not like that tax collector over there! I fast twice a week, and I give You a tenth of all my income.”
The tax collector though stood at a distance and would not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he bowed his head in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.”
Which of these two prayers do you think was pleasing to God? You are right that the prayer of the tax collector pleased God. Jesus said to those listening, “The tax collector, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humble, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
We don’t ever need to brag on ourselves. Others will see what we are by what we say and do, and so will God. Other people will not be impressed by our own boasting about ourselves and neither will God. Let your words and actions speak to your good character and Christianity.
Let’s say a prayer. Dear Father, please help us to remain humble and not think we are better than anyone else. We are all loved the same by You. Let us do and say what it right to please You. Then others will know we live and love You. There is no need to brag on ourselves because we are all sinners and need Your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.