"Be Merciful to Me a Sinner"
January 24, 2015
(Jesus said) "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
Have you noticed that we seem to be living in a day and age where nobody is guilty of anything?
Search high and low and you will discover that everybody is innocent of all wrongdoing. People's refusal to admit they have done anything wrong can really get out of hand. Let me tell you what I mean.
Not so long ago, a California man sued two Las Vegas hotels because they allowed him to gamble away more than $1 million while he was drunk. Can you imagine? The man wasn't responsible for going into a place that exists solely for the purpose of separating him from his money. He wasn't responsible for drinking like a fish. He wasn't responsible for gambling. He wasn't responsible for any of it.
I would love to say he is unique. He isn't. We live in a world where everybody is innocent.
Not so long ago a commercial jetliner flew from Los Angeles to New York. As sometimes happens, the plane was thumped by some pretty strong turbulence. At least a few of the passengers were sure their end had come. It hadn't. They lived to sue the airline for the 28 seconds of terror they had endured. A jury gave the flyers $2 million.
Are you starting to get the picture? No? How about if I shared the story of
* the 270-pound, five-foot, ten-inch maintenance worker who sued four fast food chains for having jeopardized his health with greasy, salty food. He wasn't at fault for eating the stuff. They were the guilty ones;
* or the woman who sued the theme park in Orlando, Florida, because the park's annual Halloween haunted house was too scary and caused her emotional distress. She's not at fault for going to the fright fest, the park is;
* or the parents who threatened a teacher with a lawsuit because their young one wasn't going to graduate from high school -- failing grades, you know. No matter their child had plagiarized a test, skipped classes, failed to turn in assignments, didn't go to a make-up session, which might have raised her grade. No matter the teacher had sent home notes telling the parents what was happening, that the teacher had met with them, that the school administrators had met with the parents. No matter. Their child was innocent. It was the teacher's fault.
Although these are extreme examples, the reality is, since Adam and Eve blamed their sin on each other and a snake, humanity has powerfully, and rather pathetically, proclaimed its innocence. Now such a claim may succeed when made before other sinners, but God sees through our smoke and mirrors. He knows there is not a just man on the earth that does good (see Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23).
No, the Lord would much prefer we come to Him in humility and say, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." With such a repentant heart, the Lord can do great work. He can forgive, He can restore, He can encourage, He can direct such a saintly soul to the path of the Savior, whose redemptive sacrifice gives us eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive my pride, arrogance and refusal to confess my weaknesses, shortcomings and sins. Let me acknowledge my limitations and that all good changes in my life will be a result of Your benevolence, which comes from Your grace and my Savior's sacrifice. This I ask in His Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries