May 20

Luke 18:11-14 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Jesus told this parable to those who were confident about their own righteousness and looked down on others. Spiritual pride is a devastating disease of the soul. It is like the continual use of painkillers that make us unaware of the problems going on within us. How can we know if we are afflicted with it? Consider the attitudes in these two men who prayed.

The Pharisee prayed about himself. He thanked God that he was not like other people that he considered evil. It is good to thank God for His grace in your life, but the Pharisee is making the great blunder of comparing himself with fallen men. The standard is not men but God. In comparing himself only with men, he has missed the great sin of pride. He goes on praying about his righteousness, declaring to all in the range of his voice that he fasts and tithes. Whoops, there goes his heavenly reward. Jesus said when men praise you, their praise is your reward (Matthew 6:2).

The other man just beat his breast, recognizing he was a sinner. His request was for mercy from God. Jesus said it was this second man that went home right with God. God was his standard. The great distance between his righteousness and God's righteousness caused him anguish. He had the true picture of his condition. Prayer is sees God for who He is; and in the light of that reality we see our great need. God lifts up the humble. He gladly gives mercy and grace to those who recognize their need, to those who are brokenhearted about their sin. To the proud He will prepare a path of humiliation. That, too, is grace and mercy.

Prayer: Lord, grant us eyes to see our real spiritual condition that we might enter into Your presence in prayer instead of praying about our self.