9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
God had mercy, I am perfect!
The standards are set high. The Bible commands us not to murder, it then goes on to say that being angry at someone could be just as bad. It tells us not to commit adultery, but then goes on the say that a lustful look is just as bad. We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves, not to be afraid, and to give without expecting anything in return. We are called to a high standard, and if we break one small part of the law, then we are guilty of breaking it all. Jesus sums up what is required of us in Matthew 5:48. We are to be perfect.
Yesterday I realized something. I am perfect! I haven’t killed anyone, so I figure I am doing pretty well. However, in grade 4, I was angry at my friend. I became so angry in fact that caused her to die in the story I was writing about us. It was a few years later when I realized the full extent of how horrible that had been. I was, in a sense, a murderer. There is not much perfection in that. My perfection comes not from what I do. No tithing will make up for my sin. No volunteer efforts will reverse my selfishness.
The calling is high. We all fail and nothing we do can make up for our short comings, but the tax collector went home justified before God. He was acceptable in God’s sight, and God accepts only those who live up to the standards. The tax collector was made right in the sight of God. God saw him as perfect!
God can see us as perfect because he sees Jesus when he looks on us. Christ took for us the debt owed for our sins. He paid it for none of us could have.
I cry out “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And, he does! This is good news. This is exciting! I am justified before God. My sin has been taken away, and I am perfect!
I must never become like the Pharisees. Far be it from me to think that I can stand before God because of what I have done. It is his grace alone which allows me into his Holy Presence. I have been let into his Presence, a way has been made for me, and since it is a Holy Presence, then logically only that which is perfect could stand before God. I am perfect. I can stand.
God I Thank you for your great love: the mercy and grace you have showered upon me. Your grace is enough. There are no works which bring me closer to you. It is only by grace that I can approach your throne. Amen and Amen!