Two unrecognizable men praying in an old Roman Catholic Church.

Introduction

Westboro Baptist Church, followed by bomb explosions in Boston and Texas tweeted that the victims were sinners upon whom God’s wrath descended and wowed to picket funerals of the victims.

Westboro’s careless response to a national tragedy actually reminds me of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Jesus told it to some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else. So this is God’s message for you and me today.

Read Luke 18:9-14

1. The Pharisee. An icon of Spiritual Pride

A. The Pharisee’s prayer indicates two symptoms of spiritual pride.

B. First, he passes judgment on the tax collector and everyone else.

C. Second, his prayer is all about him, his good works, and righteousness.

2. The Publican was an icon of Humility

A., Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector is filled with the fear of God.

B. For him, God’s presence is like a mirror that reflects the state of his soul.

C. He repents and seeks God’s mercy. He doesn’t brag or judge the Pharisee.

3. The outcome of the prayer of both men

A. The Pharisees were icons of spirituality while tax collectors were symbols of sin.

B. The tax collector left justified, but the Pharisee left the same way he came in.

C. God shows mercy to the humble-hearted but despises the proud, (James 4:6)

Application

This parable has three lessons for us. If we apply these three truths we shall not leave God’s presence the same way we came in. Like the tax collector, we shall leave justified, transformed, and with peace of mind.

A. Don’t judge

I. To judge others means to pronounce them guilty. It is the fruit of spiritual pride.

II. Ex: tale-bearing, gossip, criticism, backbiting, condemnation, allegations, etc.

III. Don’t use correction as a cover to judge others. Correction is personal, loving, and respectful but judging is not, (Matthew 18:15-17).

B. Don’t boast

I. Don’t go to church to show off your skills, wealth, or knowledge. God shuns such motives.

II. Then ask the Holy Spirit to point out your shortcomings when you stand before God’s presence.

III. Repent and seek God’s mercy. Pray that he will give you the grace to turn from your old ways.

C. Depend on God

I. Pharisees used false spirituality as a lid to cover up their weaknesses and shortcomings.

II. In church also some Christians often cover their weaknesses with a sense of false spirituality.

III. Don’t let ministry or anything else sustain your self-image. Rather depend on God and he will exalt you, (…those who humble themselves will be exalted… Luke 18:14)


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