religious and God-fearing; he was self-righteous and flashed looks of disdain and disapproval at others around him. This was the attitude that Jesus was after. The Pharisee went to the temple to pray. Jesus didnít have a problem with that. Itís the manner in which his heart expressed itself while there. He was loud enough for everyone around him to hear how wonderful he was! In his thirty-four words, the pronoun I occurs at least four times. In addition, note how that he never asks God for anything in his prayer. He doesnít confess anything either; but he sure confesses everyone elseís sins, particularly those who rob, commit fraud, and do adultery. He even mentions the fact that he fasts not once, but twice a week, and that he made sure to put an offering in the offering plate whenever he went to church.

Imagination: I can hear the Pharisees thoughts: ďWhy God should be pleased to have someone like me addressing a prayer to him. This is Godís lucky day! How often does God get the chance to listen to a prayer from someone who has such a clean life. God is really fortunate to have me on His team.Ē You get the feeling that heís ready to negotiate some kind of spiritual contract with God as an equal partner in the Trinity. I think it is clear; he trusted in his own self-sufficiency. But thatís not all. Because of his attitude of self-sufficiency, he is setting himself up to miss the greatest opportunity of a lifetime Ė to receive the free gift of salvation and the Kingdom of God that the Messiah came to offer.

Application: When we demonstrate this attitude of self-righteousness, and strengthen this attitude by comparing ourselves to other people like the Pharisee did, weíre in trouble. We are in danger of missing the opportunity of a lifetime. The Pharisees act of comparison with the robber, or the fraudulent, or the adulterer, reminds me of a story about two brothers.

Illustration: They were known all around town for being as crooked in their business dealings as they could possibly be. They grew wealthy together but unexpectedly, one of the brothers died. The surviving brother found himself in search of a minister who would be willing to put the finishing touches to the funeral service that he had planned for his brother. Given the reputation of the deceased, it was not easy to find someone. He finally made an offer to a minister that was hard for the minister to refuse. ďIíll pay you a large sum of money if you will just do me one favor. In eulogizing my brother, I want you to call him a Ďsaintí and if you do, I will give you the money.Ē The minister, who was living on a limited income, never hesitated and agreed to the deal. When the funeral service began, all the important business people and associates who had been swindled through the years by these two brothers filled the sanctuary. Unaware of the deal that had been made for the eulogy, they were expecting to be vindicated by the public exposure of the manís character. ďSurely,