I’ve been posting from the Gospel of Luke about Christ’s teaching on the Last Days. He’s preparing us for what was to come. This next parable, in Luke 18:9-14, is directly applicable to our generation.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:
Luke 18:9 NIV
Luke’s introduction to this parable is clear. He’s speaking to those who are self-righteous. We usually call this the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector. They were both in the temple praying next to each other. The Lord lets us in on what they were saying.
“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’”
We read this, but we don’t take it to heart. We know how it ends and who the Lord commends. But do we really listen to the prayer of the Pharisee. If we look closely at it, it sounds like a prayer that a modern Christian would offer up, filled with good confessions.
“I thank you that I’m the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. I thank you that because I tithe you will rebuke the devourer and open the windows of heaven so that I cannot contain your blessing. Etc., etc.”
His prayer was filled with good confessions, and it was all true. He was different than the tax-collector. He did fast and tithe. The problem was that he had no power.
The issue is found at the start of verse 11. The phrase, prayed about himself could actually be translated as, prayed to himself.
This is a lesson that many believers in our generation need to learn. As good as confessing the Word of God is, confessions are not prayers. Confessions are toward me; they are for renewing my mind by the Word.
Prayers are directed toward God and are about His work.
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”
It’s a wonderful thing to praise God for our position in Christ. I need to know who I am in Him.
However, I want to see a manifestation of these truths. At those points where the reality of my life doesn’t line up with God’s Word, I’m missing the mark. Missing the mark – that’s the definition of sin.
In our modern take on Christianity, we don’t like talking about, or dealing with, sin. We’d rather confess it away. “I’m the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”
That statement is a truth I can declare about my position in Christ. But I need God’s power to live righteously each day. I want that position to become a reality in my walk before God.
So, which of the above prayers produced life changing power? Christ was clear about it.
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
It’s obvious, from the Lord’s perspective, that the person who dealt with relationship tapped into God’s power. The Pharisee was focused on self. The tax-collector was dealing with that which separated him from God.
Is the power of God about what I’ve done or what the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish in and through me? When I go before God, my telling Him what I’ve done or who I am doesn’t impress Him. It will never move Him to work through me.
It’s only as I work on my relationship with Christ that I’ll see the changes necessary. If you want to flow in the power of God, then your relationship with Him is the positioning agent. It’s not about what you’ve done, but what He is able to do in you.
Questions: How well are you positioned for the move of the Holy Spirit?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi