Approaching God


“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18: 10-14.)


In this parable, two men approached God. One was a Pharisee; a religious leader who loathed the impure and unrighteous. The other man was a tax collector; an extortioner, a liar, and a thief. The pharisee was filled with pride; trusting in his own good works and adherence to the law. The tax collector however, feared the Lord; he dared not even lift his eyes up to heaven, but instead expressed anger for failing to live a Godly life; as a result, he begged for God’s mercy. We are told that the repentant sinner was more acceptable to God than the religious zealot, because he elevated God and humbled himself. The Pharisee however, approached God pridefully; stealing some of God’s glory for Himself. Those who love God must approach Him with a spirit of humility.

As the story goes, there once lived a wealthy man who invited many honored guests for a feast. His own richly decorated chair was placed at one end of a long table. While he was away, each guest seated himself according to his own esteemed position in sight of the master. When the time came and everyone had been seated, the master moved his chair to the other end of the table. Similarly, Jesus has said that “everyone who exalts him self will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

As Christians, we must strive to maintain purity, but never at the expense of humility. Our own righteousness is a work of God. He is worthy of all the honor and praise. He honors those who are humble, but humbles those who honor themselves. May we never forget how merciful God has been toward us. May we continually contemplate the majesty and scope of God’s love for us, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Only then can we experience the greatness of God’s affection and the joyfulness of His Spirit living within our hearts.

“Father, if You find any areas of self-righteousness inside us, please reveal them and remove them. Through Your power may we be sanctified and made pure. We elevate You to the position of honor and glory in our lives. May we never look down on others, but instead reach out to them in humility with affection. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

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