Two Lessons of Two Men at the Temple
Luk 18:9 And he spake also this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at nought:
Luk 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
Luk 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I get.
Luk 18:13 But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner.
Luk 18:14 I say unto you, This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. [Revised Version]
The first lesson of this parable is extremely obvious: Humility. There is no reason for any human to behave in a pompous manner before God, for "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3: 23). The Pharisee seemed interested in reviewing his "report card" to God. Perhaps he had forgotten that God is the one who writes every person's report card (Revelation 20: 12), and He never posts a grade beside the wrong name. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." I Peter 5: 5.
The second lesson of this parable is only a little less direct. Of the two, how many missed on their estimation of where they stood with God, as they left the temple? Not one. Not zero. Both of them were wrong in their estimation of their relationship with God. The Pharisee missed on the high side--he was not justified with God as he left the temple. But the publican also missed his guess--in the publican's humility, God's feeling toward him was much more favorable than he guessed. So the second lesson of this parable is that feelings can be wrong.
Does God seem far away? What are you doing right now? 1Jn 2:4-6 "Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. " Again I say, "What are you doing right now?" If you are "walking in the light as He is in the light" (I John 1: 7), you are right with God, no matter how much your head hurts or your tummy rumbles.
Does God seem very close? He may be, or He may not be, close. What are you doing right now? Said Jesus in Luke 6: 46, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?" Our human feelings can be so wrong. We can be wrong about the spiritual health of the people around us also. Just because people are smiling and seem happy does not mean that they are right with God.
We need to stay close to The Good Book to know what the will of God is. Jas 1:25 "But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."
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