Winning the Vote
Exuding pride, radiating confidence, boasting about credentials, and delivering clever put downs against your rivals. Want to win the approval of humans and get their vote? This is the formula, and all we have to do is watch candidates from both parties strutting their stuff to see live demonstrations of this political reality. Just don’t try this formula when it comes to winning approval with God.
Jesus had this to say about the prideful Pharisee who, even while praying in the Jewish Temple, strutted his stuff and looked down with distain upon a poor tax collector standing in the back.
“Now Jesus had this parable for those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down with distain on others. ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray: one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Standing, the Pharisee prayed these things to himself, ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like the rest of men: swindling thieves, crooked, adulterers, or to be more explicit, like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I tithe everything I make.’ Now the tax collector stood at a distance, not even wanting to raise up his eyes to Heaven. Instead, he pounded his chest saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’
‘I tell you, this one went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’” Luke 18:9-14
Note that the arrogant religionist had a conversation only with himself. It was the humble sinner who got connected with God. It’s time to pray with the sinner, not talk to ourselves with the proud Pharisee. The only way to win God’s vote is to honestly confess our sin and cry for His mercy.
LORD, thanks that You’re still in the business of forgiving thieves, swindlers, and even adulterers—folks like the tax collector. Use Your parable to open eyes to the fact that fasting and tithing and other religious actions can’t earn one second of Your forgiveness. You only respond to sinners who humbly pound on their chests and cry for Your mercy flowing from Your Son’s cross and the new life because Jesus is alive.
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