Righteousness Comes From God
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14
As the Pharisee and the tax collector stood in the temple to pray, God heard two very different prayers. While the Pharisee thanked God for not being sinful like robbers, evil doers, or the tax collector, the tax collector asked God for mercy upon himself. The Pharisee believed he was righteous, above everyone else, doing everything he should be doing. But the tax collector knew he could not approach God without His mercy. He humbled himself, and therefore was exalted. It was the tax collector that left the temple justified.
Why did the tax collector go home justified before God? Jesus said he humbled himself. The tax collector knew that righteousness cannot come from within. It is by God’s grace that we are given righteousness and justified before God. The Pharisee believed he was righteous because of his own good works. As Christians we know that we are not able to do anything to secure our salvation, but rather everything is done by God. It was Christ who took our punishment on the cross, and gave us mercy and grace. We are righteous and justified before God. Good works are still important. They help us care for our neighbor, and grow in our spiritual life. But we need to remember that those good works are not what makes us righteous, but that righteousness comes from God. God’s grace justifies us.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending us Your son Jesus Christ who justifies us by His grace. We thank You for giving us Your mercy, and for Your righteousness, which we know can only come from You. May we stay humble while we serve You and Your people. Amen