“I just want God to think I am good enough.”
This is a statement at the heart of most, if not all, world religions outside of biblical Christianity. Left to ourselves, we seek to establish a measure of righteousness that works for us and then we seek to live up to that measure and conclude that God ultimately will be pleased with that.
Works…they don’t work.
The men we meet in this week’s parable teach us something hugely critical for our relationship with God and the good of our own souls.
The Pharisee teaches us that basing your righteousness before God on your goodness, even your God-produced goodness, does not make you right with God.
The Tax-Collector teaches us that our only hope of being right with God is to freely confess our sin before Him and trust that he will have mercy on us.
The Pharisee’s hope of salvation is based on his own character and ability.
The Tax-Collector’s hope of salvation is based on God’s character and ability.
I hope you agree that to trust in the character and ability of God is infinitely superior to trusting in your own character and ability. After all, Jesus clearly tells us that the Tax-Collector, who trusted in God, went home justified.