Jesus also told them this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt. 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income."
But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other, for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.'
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
This little parable is so illuminating. The Pharisee is proud of his ability to obey the Law and thinks God will be pleased with him, and the tax-collector believes he is a sinner and hardly likes to approach God to ask for forgiveness.
Pharisees were known for their strict observance of the Law, but Jesus sees their pride, their lack of humility, and the way they lord it over others. Tax-collectors, on the other hand, appear to break every law. The Hebrew people expected to pay Temple tax, but these tax-collectors were working to raise money for the hated Romans.
Many people think Christians feel they are better than others. But the truth is that we know our weaknesses; we know how far we fall short of what God expects of us. It is what is in our heart that matters. We are forgiven because we repent, and because we acknowledge our mistakes. We worship God because we know we are sinners.
we acknowledge our sins,
our deliberate faults,
our sins of omission,
and our mistakes.
accept our confession,
and help us to make changes
to our life.
When we speak with God alone we should be open and honest, examining ourselves in detail. We are sharing things with someone who loves us totally, and only when we really acknowledge our sin will we understand how much he actually forgives us. We need to remember that He knows all our intentions, our struggles, and the way we fail. He also has the power to help transform us so that we will continue to grow more like Him.