HOPE FOR TODAY
Jesus once told a story about two men who went to pray. One was a
high standing religious man, the other was a tax collector that
had extorted money from people. The religious man prayed saying,
“God, I thank you I am not an extortionist, immoral or an evil
person like so many, including this man next to me. And I praise
you that I regularly fast and pray and give 10% of all my income
to the church.”
Then the other man prayed. He stood far off by himself with his
head hung low against his chest. He could not bear to lift his
eyes heavenward. Instead he wept and cried out, “God, please show
me mercy! I am a sinful man!”
The differences between the two men are startling. The religious
man saw himself as a good person because of the good things he
did. He was not like everyone else. He was better. Meanwhile,
the tax collector saw himself as nothing. There was an admission
of all he had done wrong. A sense that he was undeserving, so in
brokenness he called out for mercy.
When I view the landscape of the American church and society, I
see a nation filled with people like the religious man.
Multitudes feeling generally good about themselves because of
their attempts at doing good things. They admit they have done
wrong, but counter with efforts that are akin to moral insurance
to sooth their conscience.
They also view themselves as better than the other guy, like the
religious man did. They are better than the drug dealer or
corrupt politician. They see “those people” as the ones who need
the help and religious saving, not themselves.
These attitudes are dangerous. They can lead to a moral and
spiritual obnoxiousness that will produce a sterile church, empty
of spiritual power. It can also divide a nation among the upright
elites and the downright immoral.
We all are sinners with evil lurking in our hearts. All of us.
Regardless of our religion, political party or standing in our
community. All of us have done wrong. No exceptions. Who has
never told a lie, never had a bad thought about another person or
never has done something from a selfish motive? Who? We! Are!
All! Sinners! God affirms this saying, “None is righteous, no,
not one . . . no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:11,12).
We have this mysterious evil within us that surfaces in our words,
actions, motives and attitudes. What are we going to do about it?
Wish it away? Ignore it? Increase our efforts at being good?
Because of what we have done we face the penalty of spiritual and
eternal death. Yet, it can be avoided. This was the reason Jesus
came from heaven to earth. He came to go to war against the evil
by dying on a cross. There He took our place. He took our
penalty. He suffered and died for us. Then rose again, securing
the promise of forgiveness and a new life in Him.
If you admit there is darkness inside you, an evil that dwells
within, then in the humble spirit of the tax collector, call out
to God for mercy. Then because of what the Lord God did through
Jesus for you and your entire family, freedom is waiting.
A prayer for you to pray– Lord God, examine my heart. Point out
to me the sin that lives within me. I do not want it there any
longer. I place my trust in Jesus and ask for forgiveness for all
I have done wrong. Cleanse my heart. Make it new. Change my
life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.