- He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14, ESV)
You know what the problem with Jesus' parables are? They are often lost on the very people they are intended for.
Reminds me a bit of speaking in tongues--they need an interpreter. And so, in keeping with that analogy, here is the interpretation, courtesy of our proprietor:
If God were only justice, and only Holy, He would have been perfectly right to drop me into hell right there. Instead, not only did He not make me pay for that sin on the spot, He convicted me to confess here to all of you and to make a point about His mercy so that He could be glorified by the mercy we receive in Christ.
Listen: if you're the kind of Christian who thinks that you're better in God's eyes because of your choices -- like the choice, below described, to be a temperate drinker or a tea-totaler -- you're fooling yourself. Your acts of human will are not to your credit: your acts of human will prove that you are in trouble and need a savior. It is not what you do -- or even what you think you are doing -- that makes you righteous. You don't have it in you.
God have mercy on me, a sinner.
What about you?
(All Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)