20th Sunday after Pentecost

Joel 2:23-32 • Psalm 65 • 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 • Luke 18:9-14

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

One of the things that Jesus seems to teach over and over again is the upside down nature of the Kingdom of God. Inside that teaching however is also a teaching on the importance of humility. It’s a trait that Jesus shared and modeled for his disciples – even on the night before his death. That evening Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. It was a job that the lowest servant should have done, but Jesus, took off his robe and humbled himself to wash the feet of his disciples.

The Apostle Paul quotes an ancient hymn in Philippians 2

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

Humility was the very heart of Jesus – and he calls his disciples to be humble as well. It almost seems as if Jesus exaggerates the difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector. There are too many who are like the Pharisee and not enough like the tax collector.

Even though we are believers and living our lives for Christ, we should have a humble attitude – the same attitude that the tax collector had:

O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.

It is much better for us to be humble and beg for God’s mercy than to flaunt your righteousness before others.

Jesus tells us that…those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Luke 18:14b

Let’s remember to be humble in everything we do.

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