7703 - Humble Yourself
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Our passage is Like 18: verses 9-14. As I read them you will understand that Jesus is speaking about humility.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The 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. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
"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.'
"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."
We are told that Jesus directed this parable to some who were self-confident regarding their own righteousness. This means that there was a pride factor in some of the people to whom he is talking. In fact their exalted attitude about themselves caused them to look down on everybody else. That description paints a clear picture of a person who is egotistical and who considers himself to be better that everyone else.
The first person in the parable is a Pharisee. They are notorious for their exalted, prideful attitude.
As this man speaks it sounds like he is a PR man for himself. The big “I” is present in a major way. He eulogizes himself in glowing terms. Notice his statement: “I’m not like all other men...” He sets himself apart from all men as one who is without sin.
Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees. He used the term hypocrite for them.
They tried to project their image as one who is perfect in keeping the Jewish law; however, Jesus said (John 7:19): “not one of you keeps the law.”
They required the people, to whom they ministered, to keep every little detail of the law, and they performed in public to give the image of one who kept the law, but Jesus knew their heart. He knew what happened behind closed doors, and he called them hypocrites because their walk did not match their talk. Most Pharisees would never admit to being a sinner.
In contrast the second man was a tax collector. They were despised by the Pharisees and by many other folk because they were Jewish people who worked for the Romans, and often times they dealt deceptively with the people.
This man was sincere as he confessed his wretched state. He agreed with God that he was a sinner, and his only request was for mercy. He was under conviction for his sin and he sought the mercy of a forgiving God.
The important word from Jesus was that this tax collector went home justified by God. He knew he did not deserve mercy from God, but he cast himself before a loving, compassionate, forgiving God. He alone of the two was justified. He left the scene cleansed.
The self-righteous Pharisee said he had no sin. He did not appeal for forgiveness, so he returned home in the same filthy condition in which he came.
Jesus made it plain that he came to earth to die for sinners. If one if not a sinner then he is not covered by the cleansing blood of Jesus. His condition remains the same.
But keep in mind; God’s view of self-righteous people is different from their own.
To such people Jesus said (John 5:40): “You refuse to come to me to have life.”
Oh friend, every person on earth needs the mercy and grace of God. No one is without sin, and all need forgiveness and cleansing. Every one needs to accept the new life offered by faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” We are told in 1 Peter (5:6): “Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”