The Sinner And The Saint
Jeff, a young pastor with a wife and 3 young children, sat in his office one Wednesday afternoon. He was working on his sermon for that evening.
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard the side door open. Walking slowly with his head down, a man came in. He made his way down to the front of the church and fell to his knees at the alter. He didn’t see the pastor. Tears were streaming down his face. “Lord, I’m a sinner,” he cried softly. “Forgive me. I know I don’t deserve Your forgiveness. But, please have mercy on me!” He continued to pour out his heart to the Lord, refusing to even look up because he felt so unworthy of forgiveness.
The pastor, watching through his partially opened office door began to pray, “God, I’m so thankful that I am not like others who steal, lie, and have affairs, or even like that man. I tithe and do everything I am supposed to do. I read my Bible and pray three times a day. I teach Sunday School and preach three sermons a week. My wife sings in the choir and is a wonderful mother to our three perfect children.”
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How do you think God views each of these men? Is one better than the other? Jesus gives us the answer in Luke 18:9 -14, where He tells a similar story. It’s the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
“… He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat 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 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jeff was trusting in his good deeds to get him to heaven. He thought he was better than all the ‘sinners.’ But, God wants us to trust in Him. We are all sinners, in one way or another. No one is perfect. We all mess up. Jesus was the only person ever to be without sin. That’s why He left His place in heaven and came to earth to take our place and pay for our sins once and for all. We only have to trust in Him to be saved and forgiven.
We can never be good enough on our own. We can never do enough to earn our way to heaven. But, Jesus made it easy. He is our righteousness. He is our only way to heaven. And when we accept Him and humble ourselves, He will exalt us.
Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Jesus! I could never do it on my own. Forgive me for my sins. Help me to resist temptation. Jesus, I trust You. Guide me in this life. Walk with me and hold my hand. I love You, Lord! Amen.