I am in the process of finishing the last chapter of my book. I don’t know why it is so hard, but it is. I used this devotion from 5 years ago in the last chapter as I was writing this week. I thought it was a great example of how God uses regular life to make necessary changes in us over time.
From Pharisee to Tax Collector
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ – Luke 18:11-12
Last week, my wife and I went on a date. An extremely gracious couple offered to keep our young ones, buy us dinner, and enjoy an evening together. So, we did. We went to Outback. Of course, the wait time was long when we arrived. I was with my sweetheart, so no big deal. We had been told we’d have to wait 25 minutes. After 40 minutes, I asked what was up while trying my hardest not to come across like the aggravated customers who were demanding justice for their inconvenience.
That’s when “he” walked in. Apparently, this dude had called in early and expected to go right in and sit down. It didn’t work out for him. I stood just a few feet from him. When he didn’t get his way, he clamped his jaw, closed his eyes, clenched his fists . . . I thought he was going to erupt. Instead, he stormed out of there with his girl and was taking his business elsewhere.
At that precise moment, I became a Pharisee. Instinctively, in my heart, I offered up the absolute dumbest prayer I have ever prayed in my life.
“Thank you God that I don’t act like that!”
My wife and I went on to be seated, had a wonderful meal, wonderful conversation, went to Kohl’s where I got a couple of $80 sweaters for $16 each (yes, that is 80% off), went to Target, and then went to pick up my little ones who had a wonderful time.
I don’t know why it has taken a week to process, but as I spend time with the Lord this morning, I am so ashamed of my short prayer. There is only one reason, and one reason only that I “don’t act like that.” The reason is that the living Lord Jesus Christ chose to speak life into a selfish, sinful heart. Had he not done so years ago, I would be no different than my angry, frustrated friend who was beneath waiting.
“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.’ – Luke 18:13
God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I’m sorry for my prayer a week ago. Help all of us never forget where the blood that purifies and sanctifies us comes from. It is only by your mercy and your grace that we are saved. I offer up a prayer for Outback guy. Please do for him what you did for me.