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November 1, 2022


“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed, ‘God I thank you that I am not like the other men-swindlers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11)

When I was a kid, my dad bought a label maker. Some of you may not know what I’m talking about, but some of you might remember the hand held label makers that produced the sticky labels that could adhere to anything. I don’t remember what my dad used it for, but I specifically remember seeing those labels on different things around our house.

We still use labels today, but we’ve become more sophisticated with our labeling; instead of labeling objects, we tend to label people. We label people by their appearances, clothing, jobs, and even their sin. The Pharisee mentioned in the verse above was a label maker. Jesus told the story of this Pharisee who went to the temple to pray and the Pharisee thanked God he wasn’t like all the bad people he was surrounded by. He even focused his attention on the tax collector who couldn’t bring himself to look up to heaven. The ancient Jews prayed by looking up to heaven with their eyes open. The Pharisee looked up to heaven proud of who he was and his own self-righteousness. But, the twist of the story is found in Luke 18:13-14: “But the tax collector stood at a distance, unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven. Instead he beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man rather than the Pharisee, went home justified.” The reason the tax collector went home justified was because he pleaded for mercy from God based on the sacrifice given on the altar. He threw himself at the feet of God without trying to justify himself.

When we look at people as labels, we walk in our own self-righteousness, but that self-righteousness doesn’t justify us. Only pleading for mercy towards the altar where the sacrifice is made justifies us. The sacrifice that was made was Jesus on the cross. When we cry out for mercy, we are crying out to be justified before God based on the sacrifice of Jesus rather than our own self-righteousness.

Question: Do you try to live by your own self-righteousness or do you cry out for mercy from God?

Challenge: Read Luke 18:9-14 and meditate on this story.

Prayer: Thank you, God, that I am not justified by my own righteousness, but justified by yours.

Ryan Reveley, League Coordinator -- Appalachian League

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