READ : Luke 18:9-14
‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (v. 13)
Everybody you know has a self-assessment. The question is: how do we arrive at our self-assessment?
The Pharisee considers himself a virtuous man. How does he arrive at his self-assessment? By looking down. He chooses a lowly tax collector as his standard, and of course the difference between himself and this man is considerable. It’s easy to look tall when you stand alongside someone short.
The tax collector views himself as a sinner. How does he arrive at his self-assessment? By looking up. God’s searing righteousness is the standard by which he measures himself. No wonder he pleads for mercy.
It is so tempting, and so easy, to find some convenient sinner, some moral short person to stand alongside of, and to use him or her as a standard. And so we glide into pride, so involved in our spiritual primping, so busy congratulating ourselves that we are not like other people, that it doesn’t occur to us that we’re not much like Jesus, either.
When we measure ourselves by looking up, when biblical righteousness is our standard, how can we say anything other than what the tax collector said: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” And God is merciful. “I tell you,” said Jesus, “this man went down to his home justified. . . .”
God, be merciful to me, a sinner.