“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'” (Luke 18:13)

If the truth be told, I’m not very much like this tax collector. I often see no need to stand at a distance from God’s holiness (…standing far off…), because I often try to justify myself by my self-declared meritorious works. And instead of leaving my head bowed in humility and shame at my sinful condition (…would not even lift his eyes to heaven…), I’m more like the materialistic child scurrying around the Christmas tree, looking for the other gifts purchased for me as I cast aside my barely unopened present rather than being content that God has seen fit to give me even one undeserved token of affection and grace. I’m much more like the Pharisee who measured his self-declared righteousness against that of extortioners, adulterers and unjust me (18:11), with my eyes fixed firmly on others as I meticulously scour over their character for signs of weakness and size them up so I can say to the Father, “Look, I’m nothing like them with their grotesque blemishes and moral collapses.

It is for these reasons and more that I need the Gospel and a repentant heart so desperately. If you have not read Tim Keller’s All Life Is Repentance, I suggest you take the time to read it. You may, like me, discover how guilty you are of stripping the Gospel of its power in your refusal to say, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Advertisements