March 14 – Forgiveness through Humility
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee 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 every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
How many times have we looked down on someone else for their sins? We will think to ourselves, “Wow, I can’t believe they did that! I would never do something like that.” We may gossip about them and what they did. When we do this, we are no better than the Pharisee who thanked God for not being like “those sinners.” When reading the Pharisee’s prayer, we can also see a common theme – it was all about “I”. There was no glory to God-given, just pride of self for not being such a ‘horrible sinner.’ While condemning the tax collector, he was committing the sin of pride.
On the other hand, when we examine the tax collector’s prayer, he was so sorry he would not even look up. He beat his breast and asked with heartfelt cries, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” When we are truly sorry for our sins, in order to be forgiven, we must humble ourselves before God. We are all sinners and although we commit different sins, all sins have the same consequence, separation from God. Therefore, this Pharisee should have shown the same humility that the tax collector showed, but did not because he did not see his sin in the same way he saw the tax collector’s.
Do not let the sin of pride get in the way of a good confession. We all are in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and we must humble ourselves in order to receive the full glory of God.
Lent in Action:
Resist gossiping about a sin someone has committed and talking down about them. Instead, find a way to help them through the sin, and pray for God to help them.
God, be merciful to me, a sinner! I can not resist temptation on my own. I need your help and guidance to get me past my sinfulness. Forgive me for all my trespasses as I forgive others who trespass against me. I ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.