Summary: The heart from which we pray is as important as what we pray.
Series: Stories from the Kingdom
Text: Luke 18:9-14
Title: “Our Attitude Means Everything”
I. The Two People (9-10)
• Let’s forget everything we know or perceive when we think about a Pharisee and a tax collector.
o We must try and understand how Jesus’ followers would have understood what He was teaching in order for us to make the application to our own lives.
o Sound hermeneutics: biblical truth biblical context personal application
• A leader in the church (synagogue), much like our Deacons or Sunday school teachers.
• He knew and read his Bible everyday.
• He had a disciplined prayer life (3 times a day).
• He fasted twice a week.
• He attended church (synagogue) faithfully.
• He gave usually between 20 and 30 percent of his income to God.
• He faithfully witnessed to others about God.
Tax Collector (Publican)
• Before we can fully understand the tax collector we must first understand the tax system of the Roman Empire.
• Rome collected 3 kinds of taxes: 1. Land tax 2. Head tax 3. Custom tax
• Custom tax – 3 tier system: Rome, Chief tax collector (Zacchaeus), and a regular tax collector (Matthew).
o The chief tax collector would pay Rome for a certain area or district which gave him the authority to collect taxes there.
o He in turn would lease a particular location within that district to a tax collector (trade routes, city gates, ports).
• He was greedy and dishonest (able to set his own value on goods he taxed)
• Not only did he not go to church (synagogue) very often but he was often excluded from it as well as other social functions.
• He was viewed as a traitor who not only worked for the enemy but robbed his own people at the same time.
II. The Two Prayers (11-13)
Prayer of the Pharisee
• The Pharisee had a heart that was self righteous (vs. 9).
o A self righteous heart says I will exalt myself by pointing to how bad others are around me.
Proverbs 20:6 -- 6 Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,
o We are all guilty of doing this I’m not as lazy as…, my kids are not as bad as…, I am not as (fill in the blank).
o All that may be true but it doesn’t change the fact that you are lazy or that your kids are bad.
• The Pharisee’s attitude was that he was thankful that he was not a bad of a sinner like the tax collector.
o The fact still remained that he was still a sinner.
o We like to qualify sin, good sin, bad sin, really bad sin, but God just sees sin.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 (NKJV)
20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin.
o In the Pharisee’s prayer we see no confession, no petition, and no acknowledgment of guilt just boasting in the face of God.
• So the cure for a self righteous heart is seeing ourselves as God see us.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10 -- 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
o That means realizing that any good in us, any good we do is because God chose to lavish His grace upon us.
o Remember we are measured by God’s standard and not man’s standard.
Prayer of the Tax Collector
• The first thing we see in his prayer is humility.
o It is focused solely on himself and his condition I am a sinner.
o “would not so much as raise his eyes to Heaven.”
• The second thing we see is that his prayer was a petition.
o “God be merciful to me.”
o Petition simply means to ask.
o When we pray it is important to include thanksgiving and confession, however we should always be asking God for something because we are always in need of something.
• Thirdly his prayer was from the heart.
o “but beat his breast.”
o His prayer was short, simple and to the point.
o Often we think our prayers should be these long works of poetic utterances.
Matthew 6:7 -- 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
III. Which one was Justified? (14)
• Justified in this sense simply means “right before God.”