Scripture selection: Luke 18:10

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breasts and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.

Have you ever felt the need to “justify” something you have done?  I know I have.

I think it pretty much comes with the territory – being human – that is.

From time to time, it’s only natural that we feel the need to prove to others that we are “good” or “faithful” or “right with God.”

Funny thing about that, though.

According to Jesus, the way to “get right” at times is not through piety or religion or ethics or meeting society’s standards.  It comes by way of humility.

A lowly, hated tax collector – who recognized his sinfulness and his need for God – that man, not the religiously “respectable” Pharisee was the one who found justification.

It’s a good lesson for us all.

Self-righteousness is never the way to righteousness.

Turning to God – and God’s mercy – is.

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