Tag Archives: parable

Confidence in Righteousness

Luke 18:9-14 The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

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.”

Interesting parable, this is… and it hit pretty close to home this week, as I was discussing the discipleship website I’m building with a friend of mine.

One of the issues with internet evangelism, is that things can take a real header in a hurry, if brothers and sisters in Christ start arguing with one another over righteousness, when a seeker asks an honest question. Usually the underlying issue is one of judgementalism… so the question was, how can this best be constrained. And then the discussion morphed a bit, and it was, thank goodness we see eye to eye, and we aren’t judgemental like those other folks. (light bulb moment) Yep, as soon as the second part of that sentence was stated it was like egads, we’re not being humble at all here, and are sharing the same sin, as those who would exalt themselves over others.

I think its fine to thank God for wisdom, insight, even righteous living etc. We are blessed to be granted the privilege of studying His word, edification, and Church. These are all good and proper things. Where the line crosses, is when we add in comparison factors and become cocky. Not everyone is at the same place, or has the same understanding, some more so, some less so. However, I do think we should be thankful for what God has granted us, we should not however, elevate ourselves or make comparisons. Certainly, a teacher is under greater judgement than a student, yet, the teacher should feel fine to thank God, for those who have taught him or her, but not condemn a student in the same sentence. It comes down to the last verse.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted

Often times, good teachers, will use experience the humbling experience of role reversal. Ie, the student brings things to light, not previously considered by the teacher. This, the roles are reversed. That is another cause for thanksgiving.

The problem is ultimately exhaltation of oneself over another. The proactive solution, humility.

The inverted Parable of the lost sheep

When a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one wanders off, he lets it go to the world, such that he can focus on the care and feeding of the remaining 99, lest they feel any discomfort or uneasyness with their shephard being gone for a bit.

Contrast this with what Jesus said:

1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent

And then, lets think about contemporary Christianity and its excuses

1. We can’t go there… last time we were there, the offering only covered half our expenses.

2. We need to watch our resources, we are spread too thin, homeless ministry is too expensive, we need to cut back.

3. We are to be separate from the world, we are to be safe, we are to be pure, we are to strive for righteousness. Can dark and light co-exist. We need to take care of our own and protect them.

4. They don’t repent, they won’t ever be like us, we can’t waste anymore time on them. They only say they will change, but we know its just a game with them.

Many years ago, I heard of a young preacher with a heart for the homeless, the drug users, and the downtrodden. He was making a difference, yet folks were critical. He ministered and gave shelter, food, and money to those in need. No one was left out. Folks were critical, he’s wasting his time they said, he’s waisting our money they said, those folks will never change.

The thing was, is that for the most part, those critical of the young preacher were correct. Folks didn’t change, despite his preaching, and his showing the love of Christ. Yet, a few did, and there was much rejoicing by the preacher, but not from the rest of the flock.

Over time, the young preacher changed, he still head a heart for the lost, but he saw the worlds wisdom in being careful with his limited resources. He started restricting to whom he would minister too, and who he would give shelter too. If folks resisted change, well, they were out of luck. People applauded the change. Donations increased, his success grew. By the worlds standards, he had done great things, and people applauded. Folks were getting saved, folks were getting ministered too, and getting food and shelter. Yet, the 1 lost sheep was left out in the cold, no food, no shelter, and an admonition: change, and I will let you in the door. This is the worlds way, the ministry grew and grew, many people liked the pop psychology of anti-enabling……

What about the 1 lost sheep?