Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lent, Day 25

"O God, be merciful to me a sinner." Luke 18:13b

The full context of this verse is a story Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector. Both men were in the temple praying. The Pharisee looked down his nose at the tax collector. With great disdain he prayed, "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." Talk about attitude! Comparing himself to a tax collector, he thought he looked pretty good. And just for added effect, he threw in some of his own good works. Trying to impress God, I guess.

On the other hand, the tax collector, full of grief over his sin, would not even lift his eyes. With eyes downcast, he beat his breast, and simply prayed, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" He saw himself as he truly was, and repented.

This is the heart attitude God desires. We can always find someone worse than us--someone who makes us "look good" in comparison. But that is not the scale we are weighed on. We are compared to the righteousness of God. In that comparison, we are all found wanting. Not one of us can measure up to that standard. But when we come to that realization, we are truly ready to repent. We see our sin as God sees it, realize we can do nothing to redeem ourselves, and allow His righteousness to become ours. His forgiveness will wash us clean.

It's all a matter of the heart.

My offering to God: I will thank God for His mercy to me in forgiving my sins.
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