Biblical Story Of The Tax Collector
KEY SCRIPTURES: Luke 18:9-14; James 4:10
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
Jesus told the parable of the tax collector to teach people to be humble and not compare themselves with others. The parable centered on two men who went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee who was expected to know the laws and follow them judiciously while the other who was a tax collector. The Pharisee which people thought was righteous and expected to display a more humble approached when praying to God was too prideful and instead of worshiping God in humble adoration was just telling God all the good things he had done and how he was better than the other people forgetting the fact that; “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one.” The tax collector on the other hand, who was despised and thought to be a bad person approached the temple of God with the right attitude by humbling himself and just asked God to have mercy on him because he was a sinner.
It is one thing to be confident in the salvation that was founded in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but it is another to be confident in your own self-made righteousness. In this parable, the Pharisee was outwardly religious but never had a regenerated mind because he had a heart full of pride. God was never in the center of his prayers when he went to the temple to pray, he was only there to compare himself with the perfection of God instead of seeing himself as a sinner. As Christians, we will never see ourselves in a true light until we compare ourselves to God. As Christians, we should never trust in ourselves that we are righteous, it builds irrelevant vanity and ego in us, but instead we should always approach the throne of grace with a humbling spirit and a heart of gratitude to God. As Christians, we shouldn’t be so proud of our righteousness and use it to scorn others who didn’t measure up to our standard of righteousness, this is a wrong practice, we can only measure up to Christ who gave himself for us. In this article, we will share some vital lessons from the biblical story of the tax collector.
- JUSTIFICATION COMES ONLY FROM GOD: The tax collector from the story went to his house justified after prayers, his humbling heart made God to forgive him, through faith, he was made free from guilt and sins. God’s mercy accompanied him back home because he never went into the temple with the intention of justifying himself, he came with a repentant heart because he knew he was approaching a holy and pure God. We should always have the mind of repentance when we come to God’s service. We are not justified by the good deeds or the services we render to God according to the law but by humbling of heart and asking for God’s mercy through the faith we have in him
- AVOID BOASTING: praying to God is not the time to start boasting of your achievements or the services you performed in God’s sanctuary. Don’t even try to start displaying your own righteousness before God expecting a reward for that or even start self-exalting yourself in the form of praying to God. All these practices are not acceptable by God. Prayer should be a means of communicating with God to have a deeper fellowship with him so he can reveal himself more to you for your daily living as a Christians. We should approach God with sincerity of heart to surrender all to him in all things. Boasting leads to pride and God hates proud people and you can’t have pride in your heart and give quality service to God.
- RIGHTEOUSNESS COMES FROM JESUS CHRIST: It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be made righteous. Righteousness that comes from Christ is the only true righteousness you need as Christians. Walking with God will bring you closer to being righteous and not just working for God. Not even fasting or paying tithes only can make you attain perfection before God. God doesn’t see as man sees. If you humble yourself before God, he will exalt you and make you perfect in him only.
- HAVE A REGENERATING HEART: After you are saved, don’t be like the Pharisee that was self-justifying himself through all the activities you have been doing for God but rather let the word of God in you and your service to God regenerate your mind daily. When you come to God’s sanctuary, a simple prayer of repentance is of more value than fancy words made to look like prayers. God looks at the heart when you come to him in prayers and tries to express your emotions about your weakness to the Lord in good faith so that you overcome them. Don’t compare yourself with others if even they have been proven to be worse than you but remember that your strength comes from Jesus Christ
- PROMOTE HUMILITY ALWAYS: There is nothing wrong with positive attitude boosting but we should be watchful it doesn’t generate pride or entitlement expectations. We should always promote humility in all areas in matter what we attain. God is the source and the enabler of strength, and man cannot attain alone by self. No matter the position God takes you to, try to stay humble. The path of humility will always lead to wisdom while that of pride leads to destruction. Staying humble helps you to recognize your area of weakness and strive to do better.
God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. James 4:6. From the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, this bible passage was manifested as the Pharisee came to the temple with unworthy prayer to God and he wasn’t justified like Cain while the tax collector with a repentant heart came to the temple giving a worthy prayer of repentance to God, asking for his mercy and went home justified and free from all guilty like Abel.
As Christians, in all we do, we should try as much as possible to do them with humility of heart, don’t give room for pride or hypocrisy. Have a heart of appreciation for what God has done for you. The church needs humble servants not self-righteous boasters. Jesus is the only supreme model of humility.