“All I know most surely about morality and obligation I owe to football”,
Two modelsThe 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.” Luke 18:11-12
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.” Luke 18:13 Jesus told a story of two men who went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Luke tells us that the point of the story is a dig at people who self-righteously look down on others.
Gerard Kelly says that the first image shows us how complex adults make their prayers! While this – like many of Jesus’ stories - is a caricature exaggerated for effect, we may also see something of ourselves in the Pharisee.
All of us have a bit of self-righteousness within us. “I am a Baptist and of course we are more Scriptural than the … church”. “Actually I am non-denominational and we don’t have any of the faults of the major churches”. We are proud of our giving, our regular church attendance etc. To be frank, we think God is pretty lucky to have us on his side!
The second man acknowledged his need and asked for forgiveness. Then Jesus gives us the punch-line: I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
As you pray today, do it with humility and seek to take that humble spirit into the sports club, work-place, college or wherever the day takes you.