Reading: Luke 18: 9-14
The tax collector is honest and direct with God: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. As this man who stands at a distance and won’t even look up towards heaven utters these words, it is easy to imagine tears running down his cheeks and a little crackle in his voice. He comes to the temple with his sins heavy upon him. He comes to simply do what he needs to do: to lay his sins before God. This tax collector knows that God’s mercy alone can remove these sins from his life. He is humble and honest before God. He recognizes God’s sovereignty and God’s love.
The tax collector is a great witness to the faith for us. First, he realizes who he is, honesty admits it before God, and acknowledges that God alone can restore him. Too often we instead live with ‘secret’ sins in our lives. Access is easy to many addictions. We rationalize our greed and jealousy as simply wanting the best in life. The line of excess and gluttony is easily crossed. The pull of gossip and being judgemental is great. Like the tax collector, our guilt often weighs down upon us.
Second, the tax collector knows his great need for God. In our independent, free choice, I’ll do what’s best for me culture, it’s easy to think that we are the center, that we are in control. Yet, like the tax collector demonstrates, only in God do we find true power and love. It is only when we enter humbly into God’s presence that we find true healing for our brokenness. It is only when we admit that we have no power to remove the guilt and shame of our sin that God can restore us, can make us new again.
O merciful God, allow us to see the sins in our lives. Make us humble as we enter into your presence, pour out your power and grace upon our lives. Like the tax collector, restore us to a right relationship with you.