Luke 18:9-14- He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves, as though they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed these things about himself, ‘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, and I tithe of all that I earn.’
13 “But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but struck his chest, 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, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Prayer=proseuchomai in the greek and it means: I pray, pray for, offer prayer.
Prayer is a privilege and a way of communication that God has made available for mankind to communicate with God in heaven.
This text is a parable that was told by Jesus to drive home that self-righteousness is not righteousness. In making His point, Jesus sheds light on 2 things concerning prayer. (1) how not to pray and (2) how to pray.
The examples that Jesus gave were of 2 different types of people with 2 different backgrounds. One was the prayer of a Pharisee and one of a Tax Collector.
In Jesus' day the Pharisees practiced righteousness externally. They were Jewish teachers of the Law who were more concerned with the outward appearance and strict adherence of the law and traditions than than the condition of their heart.
The Pharisees of Jesus day hated Jesus and often persecuted and criticize Jesus. On the other hand, Jesus often rebuked them for their self righteousness and traditions.
The Tax Collectors on the other hand were Jews who were considered to be sinners because of their duty and loyalty to the Roman government at that time.
These Jews worked for the Roman government as tax collectors. At this time in history, the Jews were under Roman rule and the Jewish people hated how they were treated under Roman rule.
The tax collectors were considered to be "traitors" against their own people. The tax collectors cheated the people they would collect tax from by placing extra tax penalties on the people than what was required and keep the extra for themselves.
Let's listen through scripture, the point that Jesus drove home by showing the condition of the heart of 2 different men.
The Pharisee was considered to be great and righteous in the eyes of man and the tax collector who was considered to be a "thief and an outcast in the eyes of men.
Jesus told the story in rebuke of those who thought they were better than than others through self righteous acts before men, but inwardly their heart were unclean.
Only one of these prayer allows us to enter into a personal relationship with Christ. Only one shows us how to pray and only one shows us how not to pray.
The prayer of the "Pharisee" to God about himself in vs#11-12-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, and I tithe of all that I earn.
The prayer of the "Tax Collector" to God from a sinner in vs#13-“But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but struck his chest, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
The point that I want to make is that Jesus only concern is with the condition of our "HEART"! That's it! Nothing else matters! Our works, out titles, status are all good for man's approval, but God's looks upon the heart of man and that is where He makes His judgment.
What is your motives? What are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to impress?
Do you pray? How are you praying? To Whom are you praying to? Self, people, God in heaven or other gods? Who is it?
The message is this: Self-righteousness is not righteousness. God's people are to live according to God's Word, not just certain parts that are convenient to one's own liking.
The Word was created to cut us both ways. Going and coming. Hebrews 4:12- For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
If the Word cuts us when it comes at us and if the truth (God's Word) hurts our feelings, say "ouch, repent, forgive" and keep it moving with God.
Where the Word of God is concerned, it is all of none. We can not pick and choose which one applies to us.
All of us who are now saved were once sinners who are now saved by grace through faith.
Puffing up one self to make self look better than others is a trick of the enemy. We all came from the dust of the earth and to the dust we ALL shall return.
Our souls will spend eternity with with God or apart from Him. Our earthly bodies will be of no benefit in eternity for we will be given new bodies.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. BUT, through Christ Jesus, all have been given a way of escape from the penalty of sin by grace through faith and not of works.
The call of the day from Jesus is "HUMILITY"! Scripture declares that "PRIDE" comes before the fall.
Remember, the humble child taste the grace!