Time Alone With God daily devotional

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Read: Luke 18:9-14
New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “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.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Start:

Consider: Sometimes Jesus’ parables are subtle. You have to look for the nuances. Not this one. Nothing subtle here. Jesus told a parable that sticks a finger in the face of anyone who embraces a sense of moral superiority. And because it is so black and white, it’s easy to dismiss. After all, who of us would stand in church, point to someone else and pray, “Thank you, God, that I’m not like that jerk! Thank you that I’m so much better!”

Of course, we would never do that. But when Jesus spoke in such stark terms, he was trying to rattle us—trying to help us see something about ourselves that may be shocking.

So let’s do a little personal inventory. Let’s talk about our feelings toward others. I’m not referring to rational discourse. I would never say I’m superior to someone else. But how do I feel?

How do I feel about people of other ethnicities? How do I feel about sexual minorities? How do I feel about people of other religions or those with no religion at all? How do I feel about people who hold politics that are completely at odds with my political convictions? How do I feel? How does Jesus want me to feel?

He wants me to feel love. Oh, I know that love is an action and can’t be reduced to a feeling. But let’s be honest, unless I’m willing to feel love toward all humans—willing to see the Image of God in them—I’m never going to act like Jesus.

This parable sticks a finger in my face and compels me to be honest about my love for God’s image-bearers. If I’m honest, it may cause me to fall on my knees and say…

“God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)

And that will lead to my liberation.

Pray: There are many written prayers that have become a part of Christian worship down through the years. One is called “The Jesus Prayer”…

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Another has become a part of common Christian liturgy…

“Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”

These are good prayers to pray if we approach them in the right way. Don’t see them as self-condemning. See them as the liberating prayers that are taken to the One who loves us more than we can imagine—the One who is eager to forgive and has already forgiven.

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