Read Luke 17
Christian conduct includes unlimited and unconditional forgiveness, faith, and surrender to the will of God as revealed in His Word (Luke 17:1-10). Signs that the end is near (17:20-37). Lessons from an evil judge (18:1-8); self-righteous Pharisee and humble tax collector who both pray (18:9-14); warning for those with riches (18:18-27); assurance of gaining the best in this life and life everlasting (18:28-30); a blind man who would not give up (18:35-43).
The Pharisee seemed to have everything in his favor as he went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess (Luke 18:11-12). The Pharisee's prayer was hardly a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Rather, it was an arrogant congratulatory praise of himself in contrast to others. Sadly, he didn't realize that he merely was praying thus with himself.
The Pharisee observed the publican (tax collector) and portrayed him in his prayer as a dark background on which the bright colors of his own virtues were gloriously displayed. His pride and contempt for others revealed the true state of his heart. He felt the need of nothing and his prayer became a long-flowing boast of self-righteousness, claiming to go beyond even the requirements of the Laws of God. With each act of self-congratulation, the Pharisee probably should have followed it by confessing: "I have not been an extortioner, but I have often coveted what was not my own. I have not been unjust, but I have been far from generous. I have not been an adulterer, but my heart has harbored many sinful thoughts."
The Pharisees disappeared from history long ago, but many people still follow the legalistic spirit of the Pharisees.
The publican's prayer was short but, oh, how sincere! He would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven. He was as great a sinner as his prayer implied when he smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner (18:13). The publican felt his unworthiness to stand before the One True Holy God! He did not measure himself with other people nor mention his neighbor's sins. Instead, he was burdened by the consciousness of his own personal guilt and knew that he had no hope but in the mercy and grace of a loving God.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me for Thy goodness' sake, O Lord (Ps. 25:7).
Thought for Today:
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Rom. 12:3).
For Luke 18:20: See Ex. 20:12-16; Deut. 5:16-20.
17:8 sup sat, dine; 17:9 trow not think not; 18:1 faint give up; 18:3 Avenge me of provide justice and protection against.
Pray for Staff: Dr. John A. Hash • Country: Comoros (563,000) in the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean • Major languages: Shaafi Islam (Swahili dialect) and Malagasy • Limited religious freedom • 99.7% Muslim; .2% Roman Catholic/Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips (Prov. 16:23).
Memory Verse for the Week: