Jesus analyses two different kinds of prayer that represent two kinds of heart. We read about it in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, generally despised by religious leaders. A striking contrast is evident in the speech and body language of the two praying persons.
“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God I am not like other men- robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God” (Luke 18:9-14).
What makes pride lethal? The real danger of pride is that it blinds people to their true standing before God. We fall into the trap of thanking God that we are not as bad as others. How easily we become judgmental. In contrast, God hears the call for mercy. Our prayers are acceptable to God when we recognize our lack of merit and our complete inability to save ourselves, and come to Christ in humility.
Jesus set forth one of the most distinguishing marks of the Christian value system: “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but the humble will be lifted up.” Would you characterize yourself as humble? Humility is challenging to discuss, because by its very nature humility does not talk about itself. It’s simply being proactive in offering service to lift others; sacrificially and without fanfare. It does what is right. It does not boast about integrity but demonstrates honesty.
Sometimes we confuse humility with self-deprecation and a timid approach to life. On the contrary, the truly humble Christian reflects attractive and inviting God-given joy and confidence. As recipients of God’s grace and mercy, let us cultivate a heart of humility.