“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Luke 18:10 ESV
These two guys had a lot in common. . They both had jobs, families and bills and maybe were even neighbors. One morning they both decided to go to the prayer meeting. Maybe the Pharisee even smiled and nodded as he passed the tax collector on the street. But once inside the church door things began to change.
The Pharisee went up front to the altar and began a long monologue about what a great guy he was. As he recited all his wonderful qualities he smiled then raised his voice for the big finale, “Thank God I am better than that tax collector over there: Amen!”
The tax collector on the other hand woke up that morning realizing what a mess he had made of his life. Maybe he remembered his mother’s prayers and his father’s tears over the life he had chosen to live. So he slowly set out for church where he hadn’t been for years and looked for a private corner to pray. “God forgive me, I’m the biggest sinner in town.” He said. Not knowing what else to add, he said, “Amen!” then turned and left.
As God cupped His ears to listen, He soon grew weary of the Pharisee’s loud but as He listened to the tax collector he began to smile. Then God sent off a special delivery package of forgiveness along with a personal invitation for dinner. On the return address was clearly written, “Jesus friend of sinners!”