The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Lk 18:9–14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The Purpose of Lent
Lent is like spring cleaning. Our lives gather up self-sufficiency, the root of all sin, gathers in our lives like dust in our houses. If we take time to go through and deep clean, it will not amount to anything. If we ignore it, over time we will forget it even exists. Eventually we will stand before our Lord and His vessel of grace and glory will be caked in dust, tarnished, and we won’t know what to do with it.
Lent is like preventative medicine for spiritual sickness. Once a year we focus on eating and drinking healthy spiritual food and drink - not to the exclusion of any other time of year, but at least once per year as a specific focus. If we always ate healthy we would never have to diet. If we were always keeping spiritually healthy, we would not need Lent. But if we are honest with ourselves, Lent is a blessing and often a necessity for most of us.
The Pharisee thought he was already set. He believed God could not add anything to his spiritual life, so his prayer was of gratitude alone and judgment upon his fellow man. He was proud of himself, and because so, all he saw was himself. He did not see God. He did not see his need of God.
The tax collector was just the opposite. He knew he needed God. He knew he was not who God intended him to be, and he knew that he would only change with God’s help. He sought mercy that went beyond forgiveness to transformation. It was this tax collector who truly saw God that day.
Reflection: What do you need to give up to see your need of God more clearly? What do you need to do to see God Himself in your life?
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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