The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: "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." 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 18:11-13
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
There are two common things which can be said about these two persons in Jesus' parable:
1. They are in the temple.
2. They are praying to their God.
That being said, we also note that the content of their prayer is totally different. One is bragging about himself, his righteousness, his tithes, and his fasting because he thinks he is a perfect man. He wants to prove himself to God that when he is compared with robbers, evildoers, adulterers and with tax collector, he is a righteous fellow.
The man is very confident of his own righteousness.
If we look at the tax collector, he is the complete opposite. He knows he has nothing to boast about and for that reason he admits and feels sorry for what he has done.
He asks for God's mercy on him, a sinner.
No explanation is necessary: these are two distinct ways of coming to the Lord. The tax collector confesses and admits he is a sinner and he can do nothing to justify himself. He implores God to help himself become right. He has the right attitude.
How about the Pharisee? Obviously, he is arrogant, self-righteous, and too self-confident. He judges and criticizes other people. He thinks he is good enough to enter the kingdom of God. All of Scripture points out that anyone who has such a point of view is totally wrong. The fact is none of us is good enough to get into heaven.
Our sinful nature loves the idea of using a substandard human standard to measure our self-righteousness. That is true even for Christian pastors and church leaders who may be tempted to think they are better than other people. We trust our good deeds. We rely on our so-called good practices. When that happens, we show we are just as arrogant as the Pharisee who did not practice what he preached.
We are hypocrites and fail to meet the standard for the righteousness that God demands.
We deserve God's judgment as a consequence for being so wicked. We can never enter the kingdom of God and should be cast into the lake of eternal fire.
This is what we all deserve, but Scripture also tells us that God is merciful. To rescue us, the Lord sent His only Son to die for us, and through Jesus' life, death and resurrection all who are brought to faith are made righteous.
Jesus has put His righteousness on us.
As righteous children of God, He wants us to go out to proclaim His power of salvation to other people around the world. He wants us to tell the lost about the salvation He has given.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your righteousness, which has made us Your children. For this and other blessings, I give thanks. In Your Name. Amen.
Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was authored by the Reverend Phan Narit (Jesse): He is the executive director of Angel Dormitory Project. An ordained minister, he previously served as a pastor at a church in Sihanoukville area in Cambodia, and later served for seven years as logistic coordinator for The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod (LCMS) in Cambodia.
Since its establishment in 2000, the ministry center staff and volunteers at LHM-Cambodia have used programs like Equipping the Saints (ETS) and Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC) to communicate the message of God's eternal love to the country's 15-plus million Cambodians. The center also cooperates with churches in reaching the lost through puppet shows, music events, and youth programs.
In-country, LHM-Cambodia is known as Cambodia Christian Media Center, with its headquarters in Phnom Penh City. In addition to utilizing BCC and ETS workshops, this ministry center is active in evangelism training and educating this county's citizens in Christian teachings. Using a values-education program, young people are taught the benefit of making healthy lifestyle choices. The ministry center also provides clothing and other materials to school-age children.
Check out LHM-Cambodia's blog and read about two puppet shows the ministry team there recently put on. You can find it by clicking here to visit its blog.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhm.org/international.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries