Two men went up into the temple to pray,
one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

Luke 18:10 (ESV)

Jesus shows two different ways of approaching God in the story about the Pharisee and tax collector. The Pharisee, a religious leader, declares his own alleged self-righteousness. The tax collector understands the vast chasm between God and humanity expressing his own unworthiness to even look toward God.

There is probably a lot of Pharisee in all of us. As believers grow in Christ, they should feel more like the tax collector than the Pharisee. The Pharisee’s approach leaves no room for spiritual growth as his standard is other sinful people. He may as well stand in front of a mirror and pray to himself. The tax collector’s attitude allows him to confess his sins and be forgiven by relying on Christ’s righteousness. Christ frees him.

A Pharisee today would probably be a mixed bag as even folks outside the church like to claim Jesus on some level. And some inside the church today seem to hold some of the positions as those outside. Consider, in light of those thoughts, what a Pharisee and tax collector might say today when going to church to pray.

Today, a Pharisee might pray, “Jesus, I thank you that I can be who I am and don’t have to change my ways according to the Bible as those who judge everyone claims. I am so glad I am not like them. I am just like you and simply love everyone – except them – overlooking sins and accepting all regardless.”

A tax collector today might pray, “Jesus, have mercy on me, I am sinner. Conform me to your image.”

How often do you feel like a Pharisee and what do you do about it?

Grace and peace,


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