(10) Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
(11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. (12) I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.Luke 18:10-11
In verse 10 we are introduced to two characters. The first, a pharisee, is familiar to any who have been with us in Luke. These are the ones to whom Jesus is referring as self-righteous. These are the ones who despise the sinner while not acknowledging their own sin.
This is the nature of the prayer that this Pharisee expresses to God.
- I am not as other men are.
- I am not an extortioner.
- I am not unjust.
- I am not an adulterer.
- I am not like this tax collector right here.
- I fast twice a week.
- I give tithes of all that I possess.
Notice the first word in every expression. The personal pronoun “I” happens repeatedly.
Of course, God’s desire for us is not to be any of these things. God’s desire is for us to pursue him in prayer and fasting. God’s desire is for us to be generous and give proportionally of how God has blessed us.
The issue is that his prayer does not acknowledge any of his own sin. He could not have perfectly done these things consistently. His comparison and standard were others and not God Himself. The object of His prayer was not really God. He was talking to God about himself.
The truth of the matter is that the self-righteous pharisees often were guilty of striving to keep their self-defined minutia when it came to how they defined God’s law but would forsake the greater parts of the law. They were instrumental in murdering God’s Son! We are going to see in a few verses that God does not accept this kind of prayer from this kind of heart attitude. The pharisee was taking religious pride into his prayer life because that was what was in his heart.
We can do the same thing when we try to see our church attendance, service to God at church, and other law keeping as making us better than other people. We must strive to be poor in spirit, noticing the sin that we have in our lives and striving to repent of it daily.
- How can you defeat religious pride in your heart today?