Saturday, 17 April 2021
Title: The Pharisee in Us
By: Chan Yew Thai
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)
In the above passage, we read about the Pharisee was declaring his own righteousness and despising others. In his prayer he thanked God that he was not a robber, evil-doer, adulterous, or like the tax collector. He fasted twice a week and gave ten percent of his income. He thought he was praying, but what he was doing was self-glorifying before God.
Does that sound familiar? We may not be saying the exact words, but we too act in similar manner – arrogance, self-righteous, behaving in a manner that we are holier than others because we do not cheat, steal, or commit other obvious sins; despising others who are not as knowledgeable in the Bible, or do not read the Bible, or do quiet time, and perhaps condemn others who do not serve in church or love partying. We also criticise and pass comments on what others do or say.
Should we behave in any of the above manner? We are no better than the pharisee because we are judging others which is the job of Jesus alone. We are proud of what we are doing example our service to God or being self-righteous, and feeling good about what we have done or have not done including in the secular environment. We become self-dependant instead of reliant on God. When we behave in this manner, effectively we have taken God’s credit. This often happens very subtly without our noticing it, and I am guilty of it. Therefore, we have to be careful with our thoughts and actions.
On the other hand, the tax collector did not even look up and beat his chest, confessing that he was a sinner and was asking God for mercy. It showed he had a humble attitude and recognised that he was a sinner requiring God’s mercy. This is the attitude that we should emulate – to be humble, to acknowledge the grace of God, and to seek His mercy and forgiveness.
The Bible tells us that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (vs 14).
Lesson learnt from this parable is that judging and exaltation are both activities of God, so when we exclude, discriminate, condemn or look down on others we usurp God’s prerogative.
Dear Lord Jesus, I admit that I have a tendency to be a pharisee and most times not knowing it. I pray that You will help me to overcome this tendency and leave the judgement to You. Pray that, Lord Jesus, You will help me to maintain the attitude of the tax collector and recognise that I am a sinner in need of Your mercy. I pray this in Your victorious name. Amen.