Reading: Luke 18:13-14
Verse 13: “But the tax collector stood at a distance… beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'”
Today we focus on the second of the two men who “went up to the temple to pray.” In the opening verse we read that the tax collector “stood at a distance” and that he “would not even look up to heaven.” We learn also that he “beat his breast.” All of these are signs of one who knows that he needs God. He is one who is humble before the Lord God. The tax collector recognizes that he is far short of the glory of God. He enters the temple knowing that God can grant him mercy, but not quite sure that God will.
Have you ever come before God in this way? At times I’ve known in my head that God is love and mercy, grace and forgiveness. But, because of what I’ve done or failed to do, in my heart I’ve wondered if God can forgive even this. Maybe this is what it is for the tax collector or maybe it has been a long time since he has come to God. Whatever the case, he cries out to God: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” What a humble and sincere heart.
The parable finishes with these words from Jesus: “I tell you that this man went home justified before God.” The tax collector was made right by God through his honest and humble confession. Continuing Jesus drives home his point to those who were “confident in their own righteousness” saying, “For everyone who exalts themselves will be humbled, but they who humble themselves will be exalted.” May we come humbly before God and may we live humbly with all of our neighbors.
Prayer: Lord God, have mercy on me too, a sinner. Restore me to wholeness once again. Lead and guide me to think less of self so that I can love you and neighbor more and more. Amen.