Pretense or Faith

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    Luke 18:10-14 says, “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are , extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

    In Luke 18:10-14 Jesus taught a great lesson on prayer. As we all know, the Pharisees had a perpetual problem with their attitude. The Pharisees were very religious people but their heart was not always right. Many times they would over emphasize certain aspects of the law and forget to have the love that God commanded. The publicans on the other hand were people who were not considered very religious people and often were not socially accepted.

    So on this occasion in Luke 18, both a Pharisee and a Publican went up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee and the Publican had different hearts which led to different prayers being prayed. The Pharisee’s prayer had the pretence of being religious and exalting God while the whole time he was just singing his own praises. The Pharisee did not hesitate to publicly list all of the great things that he did such as fasting and giving tithes. The Pharisee knew that he was better than most other people because of how religious he was and how many great things he had done.

    The publican approached God in humility not even willing to look up to heaven. The publican knew that he was a sinner. The Pharisee was a sinner too but the Pharisee refused to recognize that fact. As the passage teaches, the Publican in his humility went away justified rather than the Pharisee. The Publican realized that he was a sinner and that he needed God. The Publican might have done many good works as well, but he realized that all of those good works still didn't exalt himself to a position of recognition.

    How do we approach God when we pray? Do we want God to take note of all the great things that we do? Do we pray great and eloquent prayers just to be seen of men? Do we with humility pray from the heart knowing that at our core we are all sinners who are lost without God?

    The pretense of religion was a problem for the Pharisee. Both the Pharisee and the Publican came to the temple to pray as God commanded, yet one came to show himself religious. The other came to become more faithful in His religion. When you are religious, is it to show yourself religious to others, or is it to become more faithful to God in your religion?

  • There is no "I" in humble.