Luk 18:9-12, 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘…, (NIV)
The way of the Gospel is not to measure the success of our walk by our personal accomplishments. The way of the Gospel is to look to His accomplishment for us on the cross. The truth that we must confront is this: you and I can’t live the gospel and we can’t live without it. If you live by “how to”, you will be discouraged on the days you do not pray, read the word, or reach others the way you should. This is how we become idolaters when our joy comes and depends on our own accomplishments.
Jesus gave this parable to the self-righteous who looked down on others. The Pharisee prayed because he felt worthy of his accomplishments. He was not a robber, evildoer, or adulterer. He prayed, fasted, gave alms to the poor. He trusted in his righteous accomplishments to get him more blessings, and he did all this to be seen of men. Most of us, if we were honest with ourselves, may not do it to be seen of men, but do it to be seen by God. In other words, we think, “see how I am living for you, now bless me”. The tax collector, in his few words of prayer, went home justified. He knew how unworthy he was and craved for MERCY. We are saved by hope, purified by it, blessed by it, kept by it, favored by it. This walk is that of mercy not of merit.