Summary: God honors a humble spirit rather than a boastful one.
A mild mannered young man came into a counselor’s office ready for a divorce. He complained that his bride was so bossy that she was driving him off the wall. He wanted things to change, immediately.
The counselor told him that he needed to build his self-esteem and that this would take time. Then the counselor gave him a book on assertiveness. He was so desperate to change things that he read the whole book on the way home.
Determined to be a victim no more, he stormed into the house and walked up to his wife. Pointing a finger in her face, he said, “From now on, I want you to know that I am the man of this house, and my word is law!
“I want you to prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and to finish the meal with a fabulous baked dessert.
“Then, after dinner, you’re going to draw me my bath so I can relax.
And when I’m finished with my bath, guess who’s going to dress me and comb my hair?”
“The funeral director,” said his wife.
Sometimes we get caught up in a battle of self-esteem and the condescension to others.
Yeshua (Jesus) told a story about two men who had self-esteem issues as they approached God
Two men with things in common and things uncommon:
I. These Men Had a Shared Worship Experience:
Francois Fenelon was the court clergy for King Louis XIV of France in the 17th century. One Sunday when the king and his attendants arrived at the chapel for the regular service, no one else was there but the preacher. King Louis demanded, “What does this mean?” Fenelon replied, “I had published that you would not come to church today, in order that your Majesty might see who serves God in truth and who flatters the king.”
A. Both were created in the image of God
B. Both were sinners and in Need of God
C. Both were Jews – chosen people – entrusted with words of God; chosen to bring the LIGHT to the world
D. Both worshiped the Same God in the Same Place at the Same Time
• Going UP to worship – Psalms of Ascent 120-134
• In the Temple
• 9 AM and 3 PM
• The God of their Fathers – the call of Abraham – Exodus – Feasts
E. Both incorporated the Same Actions into their Worship – with Different Results
• They Gather in a Court in the Temple (Women/Israelites)
• The Service draws to a climax with singing and instruments; Levitical Choir; chanting Psalms
• Everyone stands in awe of God
• Priest takes a lamb – stands with a knife – silence – trumpet blows and the priest cuts the throat of the lamb – catches the blood – takes to the the altar along with pieces of the lamb – burns the meat and sprinkles blood on the altar
• In essence the priest, by his actions, says, “God, keep your promise that in mercy you will forgive our sins.”
• This is a picture of the way to God being opened by the blood of the lamb
• Priest moves from altar to the front of the MHP – stood before altar of incense with a bowl of 21 types of incense and began praying, “God hear us.”
• As the smoke goes up, the people (standing) begin to verbally pray personal prayers and there is a rumbling of voices – incense is the symbol of prayer and the way has been opened
o What if we stood and verbally prayed personal prayers?
o It would seem to us like chaos – but God hears each of us!
II. The Shared Experience Produced a Different Outcome
A. The Pharisee is Self-Centered
• Typically Pharisees were well-respected as teachers of Torah
• He Uses “I” 4 times in 2 verses
Robert Morley said, “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret of happiness. Then if you’re not a good mixer you can always fall back on your own company.” This fellow enjoys his own company, as a matter of fact, he enjoys it so much that he is praying to himself.
• He Stands alone – to be seen
• He Prays with Himself
• He Exalts Himself
o He thinks his external actions produced righteous status
o He thinks he has the right to condemn and criticize others
o He forgot the gracious nature of God and his condition without it
B. The Tax Collector is God-Centered
• Tax Collectors were NOT respected – resented
• He Displayed Humility –
o Standing away from the crowd
o Asks for Mercy/atonement – “Let it be for me.”
o For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2.17