Luke 18:9-14 (NLT)
Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Jewish leader looked over and said thank God, I’m not like him over there. I pay my tithes, I remember the Sabbath, I do everything I’m supposed to do.
The tax collector knew he was unworthy of God’s grace and mercy and love. He was saying, I can’t even lift my head up. I’m collapsing under God’s grace.
We’re so quick to say, at least I’m not like them. At least I don’t do what they do. At least I’m not into that. At least… What we don’t understand is that we have many things in common with them. One is that we all sin and fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23). Another is that we all have the opportunity to be saved and spend eternal life in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
As quickly as we can turn and look down on somebody else and say we’re not like them, we can remind ourselves that we actually are similar in some way, sin. We can look over at them and look up on them and remind them that we have another thing in common, the opportunity to be saved.