Read Luke 18:9-17.
“Toot your own horn because no one else will do it for you!” That’s conventional wisdom for today. People are supposed to be strong and aggressive and we are supposed to be impressed with that. Jesus Christ turned conventional wisdom on its head, both in His day and in ours, especially where the religious leaders were concerned. The parable we discussed last week applied to them because the older son stood in for the Pharisees. The parable in today’s passage spoke to them directly.
Two men went for a time of prayer, Jesus began. One was a religious leader, a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. Listening to the Pharisees’ prayer, one might believe he was suggesting reasons for God to be thankful for him! The tax collector did not even look up at the heavens. He continually called on God for mercy, that God would have compassion on the man and turn His wrath away from him.
Which man went to his house “justified,” with a right standing before God? Conventional wisdom of the day would have suggested the Pharisee. But, Jesus is more interested in the heart. The Pharisee believed that his own works and outward behavior made him right before God, while the tax collector saw the need for God’s grace because he could never justify himself.
Humility is a tough lesson. It is counter to what we are taught by the culture. But, a godly humility takes God at His word that we must approach Him in repentance and faith to be saved by Him. A godly humility realizes that we must rely on His Spirit to work in our lives so that we can live lives pleasing to Him.