Today’s Reading: Luke 18:1-17 (additional reading: Psalm 85:1-13 & Proverbs 13:7-8)
There was a very lost, wicked, and rebellious man who decided it would be good for business if he went down to the church and joined it. He was an adulterer, an alcoholic, and had never been a member of a church in his life.
But when he went down to place membership, he gave public testimony to the church that there was no sin in his life, and that he had grown up in the church, and they readily accepted him as a member.
When he went home he told his wife what he had done, and his wife, a very godly lady, exploded. She condemned him for being a hypocrite, and demanded that he go back to the church the next week and confess what he really was. Well, God used his wife to really break him, and he took it to heart.
The next Sunday he went back to the church, walked down to the front again, and this time confessed to the church all of his sins. He told them he was dishonest, an alcoholic, an adulterer, and that he was sorry. They revoked his membership on the spot. He walked out of the church that day scratching his head and muttered to himself: “These church folks are really strange. I told a lie and they took me in; and when I told the truth they kicked me out!”
Jesus told a story of two men in a similar situation in today’s reading who had totally different results. One man tried to talk himself into God’s kingdom, but he didn’t make it. One man tried to talk himself out of God’s kingdom and he did make it.
What impresses God is when you don’t try to impress God. C. S. Lewis once said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and of course, as long as you are looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.”
Verse 11 says, the Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself.” In the original manuscript it actually says, “he stood and prayed to himself.” When you approach God with pride, you end up talking to yourself. Someone said, “The only person God sends away empty is the person full of himself.” Prideful prayer is nothing more than an echo in your own ears.