Time Alone With God daily devotional





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.”




Consider: Jesus’ kingdom has rightly been called the upside-down kingdom. His words always flipped the values of this world so that down was up and up was down. In this simple parable he taught us that the good guy’s prayer wasn’t heard while the bad guy’s prayer was.

There are usually multiple layers to Jesus’ teachings. The truths contained in his parables find meaning in our lives as they lodge in a different areas of our experience. Today I want us to look at this parable as something that doesn’t simply apply to a one-time experience, but to the unfolding of our daily lives.

The tax collector in Jesus’ parable represented the worst kind of sinner that the first century Jews could imagine. He was a cheat, a turncoat and someone who helped the Romans oppress God’s people. Yet, in this parable he was overcome by his own sin and Jesus said that he “went home justified before God” (18:14).

The Pharisee, who had been given God’s truth, had somehow distorted God’s grace into some form of merit that he had achieved.

We don’t want to be Pharisees. After receiving “the incomparable riches of his grace” (Ephesians 2:7) we dare not grow judgmental of others. That would distort and pervert our understanding of grace and cause us to delude ourselves about who we are and what we have accomplished.

So every day we approach God as tax collectors. No, we’re not forgetting that he has already forgiven us. But we are reminding ourselves that without God’s grace we are not worthy to “even look up to heaven” (18:13).

That posture of humility reminds us of our poverty of spirit, which reminds us that the kingdom of heaven is ours (see yesterday’s discussion of Matthew 5:3).

Pray: “Lord, teach me the liberation of humility. Teach me the freedom that comes with grace. Teach me the joy of seeing your power ‘made perfect’ in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

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