This parable and especially the statement above, with which Jesus concludes it, can seem quite ominous. But it is not a threat, it is simply an observation. The idea that any one of us is any better than any other, is what is being called into question. Nobody is entirely without sin. To believe and behave otherwise is a mistake none of us should make. It is still quite common, even in our secular society, to hold the belief that members of the clergy should be less sinful than those who haven’t been called to the church. Well in theory, they should certainly know better and therefore, have less excuse for their sinful behaviour, but essentially, their knowledge, education and perhaps even their vows, are all useless in the battle against sin. We are all too weak to conquer the sin in our hearts. We all need God to be merciful and help us over come our sins.
Luke 18:9-14 NLT
Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “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.’ 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.”
Recognising our sinfulness is the first step to salvation. Repentance (turning our backs on our sin and asking God’s forgiveness) is the next step. I would suggest a third step would be to seek God’s will for your new life with him. The best place to seek the Lord’s will for your life is in the Bible. It doesn’t really matter where or how you start reading scripture. As long as you are reading it to find out more about how to serve God or how to know God, then you will find him everywhere in whatever section of the bible you look. He will find you and speak to you, not the other way round.
Joshua 13:1-14:15, Luke 18:1-17, Psalms 85:1-13, Proverbs 13:7-8