In this parable, Jesus speaks to any of us who, from time to time, feel just a little bit better than someone else. He speaks to those times when we get a bit judgmental. I find that when I am thinking this way about others, it usually has more to do with me. Maybe I am feeling insecure or envious. Maybe I’m soothing the pain of some sort of failure by knocking someone else down a peg, even if it’s just in my own mind that I’m doing so. Sometimes my fear causes me to blame others rather than to trust God. At any rate, Jesus teaches that humility is the remedy for times like these.
With which of these characters do you most identify? Are there times when you catch yourself thinking, “At least I’m not like them”? What might “they” teach you about the heart of God? What can you learn from the humility of the tax collector in this story?
Offer a prayer of confession for your own sins and after each one, repeat the phrase, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Find assurance in the promise that, in Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.