In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a parable concerning the condition of our hearts. The parables goes as follows: "He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 'Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you 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 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.'"
A lot can be said of this text. I hope you'll join us this Monday night at 7pm or Wednesday night at 7pm as we'll be discussing this text and the dangers of self-righteousness. It will be a great discussion!
Suffice to say, God is more concerned about the condition of our heart than our acts of righteousness. Nothing that the Pharisee does or does not do is wrong. He was living a very moral life. He was following God's law. Yet, he had begun to trust in himself rather than on God's mercy. He was playing the comparison game - comparing his righteousness with the lack of righteousness on other people's parts. This comparison game had given the Pharisee a false sense of confidence.
God has offered us salvation as a gift. He cannot earn it. Those who have trusted their future to Jesus have received mercy and grace from God. We do not deserve it. That's what the tax collector in Jesus' parable understood. He could not save himself. He was completely dependent upon the mercy and grace of God.
So, where do you stand. Do you stand with the Pharisee? Are you trusting in your good works and moral character to save you? Or, do you stand with the tax collector - willing to admit your sinful state, your helplessness before God and your need for a Savior? I pray you'll stand with the tax collector, as he was the one who went home justified before God.