A Broken and Contrite Heart
How do we approach God? Like the Pharisee?
Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, `God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ (Luke 18:9–12)
Or like the tax collector?
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, `God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Luke 18:13)
King David’s 51st Psalm describes the heart of the penitent:
Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice,
but you take no delight in burnt-offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17-18)
Our giving to God is important, but it does not buy us salvation or even miracles. God is looking for more than our giving and our sacrifices. Through the Prophet Hosea God tells us:
I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
Do we love God? If so, our love for him should lead us to repentance. He is a holy God and we are all sinners, including the Pharisees among us.
Jesus finished the parable:
I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)