Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Amazing Grace .. amazing disgrace. Living & believing – Grace or Law?

From disgrace to His Grace !

Was reading Luke 18 about the parable of two men who offered prayer
— a Pharisee & a tax collector.

Luke 18:9-14 (NASB)phariseeTax
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:

10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself:
‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying,
‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified
rather than the other;

for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

From the Message version, Jesus closing remarks,

Luke 18:14 (MSG)
14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

This parable succinctly summarises
receiving grace from the Lord,
and living out grace & extending grace to others.

Is our living,
coherent with our believing?

This parable also highlights the right  attitude in coming to the Lord in prayer
— loving God and loving our neighbor.


Jesus’ parables mirror real life.

Jesus loved both the Pharisee and the tax collector.
Amongst Jesus apostles, Matthew was a tax collector, and Paul was a Pharisee.

The tax collector stood in his disgrace,
made worse by the Pharisee’s remark,

unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast,
saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
He came humbly to receive from God.
He was hungry to be made right with God.
He went home made right with God, receiving the Lord’s amazing grace and mercy.
He was commended by Jesus.

The Pharisee prayed … but was praying this to himself.
In his self-righteous pride, he confidently boasted how good he was,
and his deeds of devotion.
i.e.  trusted in themselves that they were righteous,
and viewed others with contempt

His prayer to himself was not heard by God,
he received silence from Jesus;
disgraced, flat on his face.

Psalm 36:2 (NIV)
In their own eyes they flatter themselves
    too much to detect or hate their sin.

In another instance, Jesus spoke to Pharisees,
“You are those who justify yourselves before men,
but God knows your hearts ... (Luke 16:15 NKJV)

The Pharisee came to justify himself.

Instead, God justified the tax collector, the sinner,
His short, simple, helpless cry was heard.
‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

Similarly  in Luke 19:1-10, Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector in Jericho was justified by the Lord after the Lord reached out and loved him, and Zacchaeus repented.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:1-10 (NIV)

Jesus is right for all that’s wrong in our lives.
Amazing grace!

The tax collector was not defined by his sin,
but defined by his loving Savior, Jesus.

… The Lord does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

Although the Pharisee’s sacrifice & credentials/qualifications were impressive,
I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get’
the Lord looks at the heart.

The sacrifices of God
are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 51; 17 (NASB)

The Lord sees our hearts,
as we pray, praise, worship and serve Him.

The goal of this instruction is

love
that flows
from a pure heart,

from a clear conscience,
and from a sincere faith.

1 Timothy 1:5 (ISV)

this man went to his house justified


God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
The tax collector was sincere and honest,
he gave no excuses,
and he blamed no one, … or any past traumatic events,

he took full responsibility of his own actions,
“I have sinned, and done wrong before God.”

God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
In humility, he was honest and open,
nothing to hide from God
or from others.

The tax collector came in prayer focused upon the Lord,
in humility, in sincerity,
in God’s mercy

The Pharisee came in prayer, focused upon himself;
he was full of himself.

The tax collector’s prayer posture revealed his repentant heart,
‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
His short, honest prayer was heard by God.
God is pleased.


Psalm 86:15 (NASB)
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.


The Pharisee prayed, ‘I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector … ‘

He appraised himself as better than even the tax collector, by his own yardstick.
He felt God favored him, … due to his devout piety.
He was proud of his fasting and tithing sacrifices.

To understand what the Pharisee meant by
 ‘I am not like other people: … even like this tax collector … ‘
let’s look on another occasion, when Jesus was at Matthew, the tax collector’s home,

Mark 2:16,17 (NIV)
16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees
saw Jesus eating with the sinners and tax collectors,
they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor,
but the sick.
I have not come to call the righteous,
but sinners.”

At Matthew’s home, in the eyes of the Pharisees,
… if Jesus was a man of God, a holy man,
he would not associate and eat with unclean sinners and tax collectors.
To that Jesus answered, I have not come to call the righteous,
but sinners.”

Similarly, when Jesus reached out and loved Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector in Jericho,

All who saw it began to grumble and said,
“He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Luke 19:7 (NRSV)

Jesus responded, “… For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10 (NRSV)

Back to the parable,
I am not like other people: … even like this tax collector … ‘
in the Pharisee’s mind, he was saying
the tax collector was a really bad sinner … & not welcomed in the temple,
In the Pharisee eyes, the tax collector was disqualified in his rule book.

 

Sadly, even today, in some places of worship,
some folks are not welcomed, .. ignored because
of the way they look,
the way they’re dressed or smell,
or the kind of work they do (like the tax collector).
(see also James 1:1-4)

However, … let’s consider some of the  people God used mightily, and wrote a good portion of the Bible,

Moses killed an Egyptian (Acts 7:24-28)
David had adultery with Bathsheba and instigated the death of her husband, Uriah. (2 Samuel 11)
Paul“I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man … the worst of sinners” 1 Timothy 1:13,16 (NIV)

Through their lives and many others, the Bible clearly shows us God’s immense grace for anyone and everyone who comes to Him,
… transforming Saul … to Paul.

In the parable of the lost son,
when the prodigal son returned,
… the Father ran, welcomed, forgave, and restored him;
the Father lavishly poured his grace upon His son who returned,
in spite of what the son had done to Him.

Luke 15:22,23 (ASB)
22 But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;
23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate
In spite of his actions,

by grace & mercy,
His father justified him.

the tax collector went to his house justified

17….And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 
18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp
how wide and long
and high and deep
is the love of Christ,

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)


I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get

The Pharisee shared about his devout deeds in the temple.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus described the religious leaders and their religious acts,
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly
on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them.
tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”
Matthew 6:5 (NLT)

In another situation, Jesus spoke to the religious leaders
“… For you gladly honor each other,
but
you don’t care about the honor
that comes from the one who alone is God
.”  

John 5:44 (NLT)

John noted that the Pharisees,
for they loved human praise
more than praise from God.  

they loved to please men
more than they desired to glorify God.
John 12:43 (NIV, Voice)

Hence, its a question of our innermost motivation, desire and focus.

Trying to impress others,
… or giving our best unto the Lord?

The opinion of others, … or God?

Appearances, image keeping? … or being real, vulnerable?

Praise from others?


However,

God has a different yardstick.

Romans 10:3 (NLT)
For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself.
Refusing to accept God’s way,
they cling to their own way of getting right with God
by trying to keep the law.

The parable demonstrates this  stark difference between
the Pharisee trying to keep the law,
and God’s way of making people right with himself,
i.e., the tax collector received the grace of God through faith in repentance,

For by grace you have been saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
not as a result of works,
so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8,9 (NASB)

The truth is none of us can meet God’s standard, yardstick,
no matter how hard we try.
We need His grace through Jesus blood, death and resurrection.

 not as a result of works,
so that no one may boast

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
— Isaac Watts


Tax collector:God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

Pharisee:  ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get’

The tax collector anchored his identity fully in Christ alone.

The Pharisee anchored his identity in what he did;
i.e. his devout acts, programs, ministry, etc.
and his validation from man.

Paul wrote:
19 For through the Law I died to the Law,
so that I might live to God.

20 I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me;

and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then
Christ died needlessly.”
Galatians 2:19-21 (NASB)

but, those trophies could not equal
to the grace by which I stand

For only by His grace I am redeemed

Now I seek no greater honor
Than just to know Him more
And to count my gains but losses
And to the glory of my Lord

In Christ alone
I place my trust

And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope
is Christ alone

— Shawn Craig & Don Koch


The Pharisee prayed to himself,
 ‘I am not like other people …
Wait a minute,
… don’t we sometimes, unconsciously
behave like the Pharisee?

Using our own yardstick .
.. we sometimes may think we are ‘more right’ with God than others,
more superior, …. more favored, … special, …
… more doctrinally or theologically or liturgically or experientially correct
… or more devoted, committed, devout, … radical, … sacrificial
… ‘holier than thou’, self-righteous
, etc,etc

“… shouldn’t they be more like … us?”

‘Spiritual’ pride.

being quick to magnify the ‘great, big’ shortcomings, failures, or sins
of others (gossip?)
… not our own weaknesses,

being negative, … critical of others, …
Grumble, complain, nag, fault-finding.

Measuring others by our very own yardstick.

Even though, … having received God’s grace,
… yet having a legalistic law attitude towards others?

Like the Pharisee’s words, ‘I am not like other people …
such a  mindset also has a great impact on how we communicate with others.

… for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.  
Luke 6:45 (NASB)

A legalistic tone stirs up guilt and shame in others, … worse still condemnation.
This stirs up responsive actions motivated by a sense of duty or obligation;
“I have to do this”.
(people are watching)

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.

John 3:17 (NIV)

Rather,
inspired by Jesus’ love and amazing grace towards us,
and set free by His love, grace and forgiveness,
we respond in worship, and joyful obedience,
“I love to do this for the Lord”

In any case, for everyone, whosoever, … tax collector or Pharisee,

1 John 1:9 (NASB)
If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God’s grace and forgiveness through Jesus is freely available to all.
We’re all at the same in His eyes.

Let’s see ourselves in Jesus eyes.
Let’s see others through Jesus eyes.

Let us, graciously ... commend others, compliment others,
encourage others, comfort others,
pray for others,
inspire others.

Proverbs 16:21,24 (NIV)
21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and gracious words promote instruction.

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

 Our words reveal our own hearts.

…  What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Luke 6:45 (NLT)

 

As Jesus asked, Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye,
but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 NASB)

 Magnifying or complaining about a tiny speck of sawdust in others,

instead of our own huge log,
that we conveniently fail to notice what God plainly sees in us.

Let’s not be like the Pharisee who view others with contempt (despised others [NKJV, Luke 18:9])
in the parable.

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 (NASB)

… ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:39 (NASB)

Let’s see ourselves in Jesus eyes.
Let’s see others through Jesus eyes.

Let’s pray for our neighbors, encourage them,
instead of criticising, judging others.

…. encourage the disheartened,
help the weak,
be patient with everyone
1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)

In trying to keep the law, like the Pharisee,
this bears fruit in a legalistic, judgmental, ‘harsh’ attitude towards others who don’t measure up,

When we see ourselves and others humbly in Jesus eyes,
and be grateful for His amazing grace freely given to us,
we’re inspired to be kind, loving, gracious, and forgiving to others,
… like Jesus.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience,
not knowing that
the kindness of God leads you to repentanc
e?

Romans 2:4 (NASB)

God’s kindness, tolerance, patience
leads us to repentance.

Like the tax collector’s prayer in the parable,
the apostle Paul expressed his grateful and humble attitude before the Lord,

14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
of whom I am the worst.

16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:15,16 (NIV)

Paul calls himself the worst of sinners,
so that the immence patience and abundant grace & love of God
is demonstrated through his life,
for anyone who thinks they are beyond redemption.

In summary, unlike the Pharisee in the parable,
the focus is not about the sin or shortcomings of others,
but our own sin, … my shortcomings.

It’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.

Let’s also keep in mind, we’re in collaboration, cooperation, teamwork,
helping and learning from one another,
… not in competition with one another.


The gospel is this:
We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves
than we ever dared believe,
yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted
in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.
— Timothy Kellor


Consider Jesus example:

In His hometown where He lived.
All spoke well of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. …
“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Luke 4:22 (NIV)

To the woman caught in adultery,
Jesus said to the Pharisees and scribes
“He who is without sin among you,
let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

and to the woman (after Jesus silenced her condemning accusers)
“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
I do not condemn you, either.
Go. From now on sin no more.”
John 8:7,11 (NASB)

 


Ultimately, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God,
its not about others or someone else.

Romans 14:10, 12, 13 (NIV)
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?
Or why do you treat them with contempt?
For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another

It’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.



As undeserving receivers of His amazing grace,
let’s extend His grace to others,
so that others can experience & partake of His grace and kindness.

Isaiah 58:9 (NASB)
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,

Matthew 5:7 (NASB)
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall receive mercy.

Luke 6:35,36 (NASB)
… for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
36 Be merciful,
just as your Father is merciful.

Its also not just about the ‘big’ sins like swindlers, unjust, adulterers,
(as mentioned by the Pharisee in his prayer)

James 2:10 (NLT)
For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.

Therefore,

1 Corinthians 4:5 (NASB)
 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time,
but wait until the Lord comes
who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness
and disclose the motives of men’s hearts;
and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

 


The Pharisee prayed, ‘… I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
He listed out his achievements.

He was devout & committed.  He sacrificed regularly.

The tax collector came empty-handed, ‘bankrupt’.ontriteheart
Only his undeserving sin.
Only his humble & contrite heart,
seeking God.

Luke 18:14 (NASB)
14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other;
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

God accepted the honest, humble prayer of the thirsty tax collector,
instead of the many sacrifices of the Pharisee.

From disgrace … to His grace !!

Matthew 5:6 (NASB)
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Amazing grace!!


 

Psalm 51: 16,17 (NASB)
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Isaiah 57:15 (NASB)
For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.

grace&mercy2


Jesus said,

Matthew 23:23 (NASB)
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law:
justice and mercy and faithfulness;
but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Matthew 15:8 (NIV)
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’”

God knows our hearts.


On a further note …

The Pharisee made a personal criticism on the tax collector’s character in the temple, … in public.

The tax collector heard the Pharisee’s accusation.
However, he did not respond  to the Pharisee, or defend, or justify himself
before the Lord.

Instead …. in humility … he examined himself,
he looked to God for mercy for himself.

His prayer was centered on his own need, his own misdeed,
… not the finger-pointing Pharisee.
His gracious response is admirable.

He was more conscious of the awesome Lord’s Holy presence above everything else.
Thus, diminishing the presence and words of his finger-pointing accuser.

It’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.

See also David’s exemplary leadership, in his gracious, humble response to the finger-pointing  Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5-14, 19:16-23).

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors
Matthew 6:12 (NIV)

“And when you stand praying,
if you hold anything against anyone,
forgive them,
so that
your Father in heaven
may forgive you your sins.”
Mark 11:25 (NIV)


Perhaps, … the Pharisee attempted to make others look mediocre, in order for him to shine.

Or, … Perhaps, … the Pharisee knew of tax collectors who cheated and exploited others.
Perhaps, … the Pharisee viewed the tax collector as a Jew working for the ruling Romans invaders, and not serving or supporting Israel … (a traitor?)

His intention was not explained.
However, … the tax collector was a mere stranger to the Pharisee.

Was the Pharisee’s conclusion about the character of the tax collector fair and just?
Was the Pharisee’s assumption valid?
Was it true?

As much as we would like to believe that we have the attitude of the tax collector … the truth is, … unfortunately sometimes, we’re like the Pharisee.

Receiving God’s grace, … yet making sweeping generalisations of others?

Let’s remember Jesus’ words –
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Therefore, let’s be careful not to assume, generalize, stereotype or reject or be intolerant with someone or a group of people we do not personally know.
Let’s open our ears and hearts … listen … before we speak.
Every group of people (ethnic, denomination, status, education, occupation, suburb, dressing, etc) may have some black sheep … but, … there’s just as many (if not more) who are not, and some are great inspirations to us all.

Let’s refrain from painting anyone with the same brush, or read a book by its cover,
let’s get to know others personally, beyond the ‘labels’ of society
… & not add ‘labels’ of our own upon others :-(.

Labels hurt, … divide, … disunite,
labels are misleading.

John 1:46 (NASB)
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?
Philip *said to him, “Come and see.”

Paul’s letter to Titus highlights another similar situation,

Titus:1:12,14 (NLT)
… “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.”
… They must
 stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned away from the truth.

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate,
they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

—  Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom


On a final note, … in the Gospels,
Jesus spoke prophetically against the Jewish religious leaders, who had the Word and knew the Word.
Its interesting that although the Romans were cruel and the invading force on the promised land, Jesus did not prophesy against the Romans.
Rather,  … the Gospels highlight the great faith of the Centurion who had deep concern over his servant who was sick (… for example).

Mark 2:16,17 (NIV)
16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees
saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors,
they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them,

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor,
but the sick.
I have not come to call the righteous,
but sinners
.”

Let’s see ourselves in Jesus eyes.
Let’s see others through Jesus eyes.

17….And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 
18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp
how wide and long
and high and deep
is the love of Christ,

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)


Finally,

Galatians 2:16 (NIV)
know that a person is not justified by the works of the law,
but by faith in Jesus Christ.

So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus
that we may be justified by faith in Christ

and not by the works of the law, because
by the works of the law no one will be justified.

We are justified solely by faith in Christ we come into God’s presence.

No matter how hard we try, we cannot be justified before God by our own efforts in trying to do the works of the Law.
because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
Only by faith in Jesus Christ


Footnote:

What is a Pharisee?
The Pharisees were considered the most expert and accurate expositors of Jewish law.
Their name comes from the Hebrew and Aramaic parush or parushi, which means “one who is separated.” It may refer to their separation from Gentiles, sources of ritual impurity or from irreligious Jews.
One of the factors that distinguished the Pharisees from other groups prior to the destruction of the Temple was their belief that all Jews had to observe the purity laws (which applied to the Temple service) outside the Temple.

More information on Pharisee (Wikipedia, click here)


  Daily Rice | Serving Quietly

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
April 23, 2015
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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