“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 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.” (Luke 18:9-11 KJV)
Pride. So many study through this passage and “the evils of pride” is the only thing that comes up. Generally, the teaching gives a good stiff lesson on why the Pharisee should not have had it and a sharp admonishment so that none of the audience allows it to develop in their lives either. While that is probably a worthy message, allow me to ask a few questions. How does one go about getting rid of pride? If it acts like a cancer in your system, do you hunt it down, search it out, and capture it in some kind of container? Then once you have captured it, what do you do with it? Is it stored up in stacks of tightly sealed boxes labeled “biohazard – do not open”? Once you have it contained, sealed, and properly managed into neat well locked storage areas, how long are you going to pay the rent on that storage? Does your rent become expensive and burdensome?
Worse yet, pride is not something that you are really capable of locking up by yourself, it requires the assistance of a true friend. It cannot be contained, labeled, and managed neither forever nor alone ephesians 2 8 9 kjv. Consider one of the properties of pride. It is like a gaseous material much like hot air. It causes you to swell up and increase in energy like a great balloon that has trouble staying on the ground. The easiest way to get rid of hot air is to release it. Hot air naturally rises and floats away. Release it as soon as it is discovered. Do not try to power your engine with it in the hopes it will come out your tailpipe. Release it now so that you do not ruin your engine and cripple it. Yet, there is something in this passage even more specific than pride. There is something here that if properly understood would greatly assist in the process of releasing this pride. What is missing from the Pharisee’s prayer?
What two words was this Pharisee’s prayer missing that could have solved this whole problem right from the start? Look back a few chapters to Luke chapter eleven to the prayer the Lord taught His disciples and see which words in that prayer could have changed this whole picture. (Of course provided the Pharisee really meant them.) Do you see them yet? Notice the way Jesus starts this sample prayer. What are the first two words? “Our Father”! Each of these words carry a powerful meaning. When you put them together it is even greater. It makes it much more difficult to distinguish yourself from other people when you use the term “our”. It is not my resume verses your resume; it is the collective experience.
The term “our” points directly to Paul’s brilliantly inspired message in Ephesians chapter four. Read the following verse and consider how the term “our” is brought out in such a powerful way that you immediately have a great deal of difficulty in comparing the quality of your deeds with those of anyone else around you. “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16 KJV) Wow!
Now, the next term, “Father”. So much has already been said in a previous point in this book concerning the term “Father”; but, yet another point remains. The Pharisee addresses God in such a way that you could almost picture him speaking to the cashier at a casino in an attempt to cash in his chips. Perhaps he was thinking ahead to the parable of the talents given to the stewards (see Matthew 25:14 – 30) in that he was merely presenting his accomplishments and eagerly looking forward to his just reward. Perhaps he considered himself the faithful manager of what God had given him and the other man as an unfaithful steward that was all but destined for destruction. Yet if the Pharisee had taken the time to really meditate on the term “Father” (as meditating on the Word was a direct instruction from Joshua – see Joshua 1:8) he would have noticed that as a Father, God is not interested in what his stewards can manage to do. God has an interest in what the stewards are willing to surrender to Him.
Notice not only was the steward with the “safest” plan, according to his own management of the situation, the one in the most trouble, but this reveals the Pharisee’s lack of understanding of the Psalmists claim that his help comes from the Lord. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalms 121:1-2 KJV) You see, the faithful stewards were not better managers of what they were given, but they were better at surrendering it. They knew how to turn what God had given them over, and to let God do what He will over it. Had the Pharisee really understood that God was “Father” and was interested in developing him as a son and not a task master nor a casino cashier; then his ability to see his surroundings for what they really are increases dramatically. I am sure you can tell how putting the terms “our” and “Father” together brings us very quickly to our knees, helps us to release captured containers of pride, and makes us available for the work He may have us to do.
Finally, for the really interesting conclusion to this parable. “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14 KJV) Is it not interesting how someone who knows that he needs God’s forgiveness comes to a temple that still has an untorn curtain, and leaves justified? All the effort we put into Church programs for reaching out, following up, and education; and the Lord completes what really needs accomplished without needing us. I mean the phrase “standing afar off” makes you think he didn’t even get close enough to fill out a visitor card. It makes you really sit back and consider surrendering all the things you have been managing so that you might be attentive to the things the Lord is doing. How the story of those who try to manage their own salvation rings true to the words of Solomon. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12 KJV)