THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
THE PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
The Pharisee did things rightly. He was not “greedy,
dishonest, adulterous” (Lk 18:11). He fasted twice a
week and paid tithes on his whole income” (v.12). If
only there were more people like him, we could live in a great
society. But there were two things he did wrongly. He was
“convinced of (his) own righteousness and despised everyone
else.” (Lk 18:9).
Pharisee did not see himself as he really was--a sinner. This
was the saving grace for the tax collector. His simple prayer
was “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Lk 18:13b).
The Pharisee came before the Lord with pride and self-righteousness.
His prayer was a direct contrast to that of the tax collection,
as he prayed: “O God, I thank you that I am not like
the rest of humanity” (Lk 18:11b).
the Pharisee despised the tax collector and everyone else.
He did not empathize with the weakness of others. He did not
desire to reach out to help them if he could. He professed
to love God but hated his neighbor.
then pronounced judgment on the Pharisee and the tax collector.
“I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the
former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and
the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 18:14).
Might that be the case with us? Might we become puffed up
with pride for our spiritual life and works? Might we be looking
down on others who are not as holy as we are? Might we then
even not want to be tainted by the filth of those we perceive
to be sinners? On the contrary, as we have met Christ
and our lives have already been touched by God, our posture
should be the opposite. We should be even more conscious of
our sinful state, knowing how far we are from the holiness
God desires for us, that we still have a long way to go to
truly live Christ. And, out of gratitude
for what God has already done for us, we should strive to
reach out to others, to share Christ, so
that they too can know His mercy and receive His grace.
need to have the posture of David. He knew he was a sinner
and acknowledged it before God. “For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me.” (Ps 51:5). Further, he
was concerned about other sinners, desiring for them to experience
the mercy of God as he did. “I will teach the wicked
your ways, that sinners may return to you.” (Ps 51:15).
too, even as we try to do things rightly, must know what truly
pleases God. It is not just ritual sacrifice or burnt offerings,
but a clean heart and a steadfast spirit (Ps 91:12). It is
not just what we do, but who we truly are. It is not just
about external actions that seem pleasing, but about the internal
disposition of our hearts. If so, then we can be assured that
we will please God as we come before Him in prayer. “My
sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled
heart, O God, you will not scorn.” (Ps 51:19).