Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Sinner Like Me

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!” (Luke 18:13 ESV)   
Jesus told a parable in order to teach those who were trusting in their own abilities and good works rather than God to make them righteous.  The parable speaks of two men who went up into the temple to pray: one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.  The Pharisee prided himself on the long list of things he was not. He also made sure to mention in his prayer all of things he had done like tithing and fasting. The tax collector, much more humble, had only one thing to pray for – God’s mercy.

Mercy not Ability
We have the tendency to think our prayer is answered by God based on how many times we have been to church, had devotions, or given an offering, but nothing is further from the truth.  Prayer has nothing to do with our merit, but rather his mercy.  That is what this tax collector discovered, and once you learn this lesson, your relationship with the Lord will be a joy.
Notice this tax collector made no excuses for his sinfulness.  He came before the Lord in total humility and simply asked God for mercy.  It amazes me that he didn’t defend himself, justify his sin, or explain his rebellion – he didn’t even vow to do better in the future.  This amazes me because it is what I have the tendency to do.  It’s what you have the tendency to do.
All too often we approach the Lord and not only ask for forgiveness, but we promise to never do it again.  It’s important to know that when we make those kinds of promises we are expressing a confidence in our flesh that is sure to be an embarrassment down the road.  I have no power or ability in me to promise not to sin again.  I must simply ask God the Father to have mercy on a sinner like me.
The great thing about mercy is that you can’t take any credit when God blesses your life.  All you can do is glorify God with humility and great appreciation as you stand in awe of how he has been merciful to a sinner like you.

Scripture to Claim:
…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:14b ESV)

by Sam Nobles

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