Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Tax Collector

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a story about a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee enters the temple and prays to God. It is obvious by his words that he feels he is more righteous than most any other man, and he acts haughty.
The tax collector, however, does not enter the temple at all. Instead, he stands at a distance from it. He does not even look up toward Heaven, but simply beats his chest and cries out, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
Lately the tax collector in that story has entered my mind a lot. No matter what, we are still sinners. Even when we want to follow God, our laziness, our wickedness, our very flawed natures get in the way of it. We feel unworthy, and nothing we do is good enough, even when we try. At times we feel like the tax collector. We do not even feel worthy of entering the temple or being near it, or worthy to even look God in the eye. We bow our heads in shame, we lower our eyes, and make a simple plea in our wretchedness.
Sometimes all we have in us is a cry for forgiveness, even though we deserve nothing. Sometimes the only way we feel worthy enough is to admit to ourselves that we will never be worthy enough. Sometimes the closest thing we can do to truly comprehending God's greatness, is to confess that we will never truly comprehend His greatness.
I am the wretch, I am the unworthy sinner, I am the unrighteous wrongdoer. I don't try hard enough, and I will never be good enough. I stray from what is good, I am not thankful enough, I do not understand God enough. All I have is a piteous plea for mercy.
I am the tax collector.

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