Jesus told this parable: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood off by himself and prayed, "God, I thank You that I am not like other people........But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner!"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified. Luke 18:9-14
I can picture this in my mind so easily, because I have been both men. For 16 years I was too proud to admit I couldn't get to heaven of my own accord, but when I finally gave in and admitted my sinfulness and need of redemption, I was set free.
I see a man who has worked hard all his life to obey God's Law. As an adult he looks back and sees he has done a pretty good job of it. He feels blessed and honored to be able to go into the temple and tell God of all his achievements. What doesn't register with him is that his pride in his personal achievement is sin itself AND that he could never have done as well as he has if God wasn't involved.
I see a second man who has come to realize that his life achievement of making money has done nothing but alienate him from his own people and his God. So he cries out in embarrassment and
humility for God's forgiveness and receives it.
I feel badly for the Pharisees of today, as they have been blinded by their own pride. I also feel badly for Christians, who like the tax collector, have cried out for forgiveness and have been given it, but they are still standing in that temple crying out to God about how miserable a person they are. They have neglected to read on and see that the tax collector WENT HOME!! Not only that, he went home JUSTIFIED by almighty God!! He probably went home in tears of great joy, with the realization that he had been cleansed and released from the penalty of his past sins. In his rejoicing, he most likely went home to figure out how he could give back to God in acts of generosity to others! This would compound his joy and God's in him!! After all, God loves a cheerful giver!! II Corinthians 9:7.
My prayer for my brothers and sisters in Christ is that they all come to realize that God wants us to walk with Him and be happy. If we walk with anyone or anything else, our happiness will only be superficial. But if we walk with Jesus, our happiness will be made complete in Him!! When you sin, confess it by ALL means, but do not wallow in it!! Wallow instead in the joy of His forgiveness, then get up and get going!! There is much to do, and if we stay in the temple crying out for forgiveness already given, it is not going to get done!! Rejoice!! and again I say REJOICE!! (Phil 4:4) Paul thought we should too!!