Luke chapter 18, verse 9 to 14
The story of the Publican or Tax Collector and the Pharisee as told to us by Luke in the 18th. Chapter of his Gospel is, I believe, something of a trap. Take a chance, read it! Verse 9 to 14.
Did you identify with the tax collector who humbly regretted cheating the poor and implored God to forgive him? And did you groan within at the self-satisfied protestations of every one's favourite target, the Pharisee? If you did, you fell into the trap. You sat on the bench beside Jesus and you judged both of those men. Jesus had a right to be there you did not!
But don't feel too badly because, in a way, you were set up and so was the Pharisee who, in spite of his faults, had a lot going for him. The publican was a truly repentant sinner. How many of us can claim to identify with him without being on dangerous ground?
The Pharisee was a man of conviction. He was one of 300 or so who clung with fierce tenacity to the Faith of their fathers. Overly puritan perhaps, but true to doctrine and tradition, he was a man of prayer and proud to be known as such. He would never be too shy to say grace in a restaurant! Yes our Pharisee friend was a man of conviction and commitment. He supported his synagogue and temple in a spirit of sacrifice. In short, were he a co-parishioner, we might look upon him as being a bit of a bore but still a moral and a financial asset...spiritually sensitive...pulling his own weight and then some.
A lot of thanks he gets!
As we know, his big problem was pride. Not pride in the sense that he stuck to his guns and took pride in and defended what he believed to be good and true. That is healthy pride. Jesus criticized him because he righteously despised others who failed to meet his standards. Basically, he was a good and honest citizen but he condemned the boys for their hairstyles and the girls for their revealing clothes. He was critical of parents for abdication of responsibility and the priests for not speaking enough about hell. He dismissed the smoker and the drinker as weak slobs and the divorced and the separated as spineless weaklings. To him the poor were lazy and those wealthier than him were crooks. Those with talent he labelled show-offs ...We have known him in his many incarnations...perhaps even in the mirror, ...She is truly ubiquitous.
But when we condemn or dismiss such people...are we not, in fact, emulating them? Remember the reason given for Jesus having told the parable in the first place? "He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others!"
The message for all of us? TRY, difficult though it can be, to be understanding, accepting, forgiving, encouraging and leave judgement to God. Jesus has a right to judge...we do not!