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It’s simple. Motivation is everything. It says in Luke 6:45 that a good man has a good heart and a bad (evil) man has a bad heart. Good people do good things and bad people do bad things. Let’s refine it a little more. In Colossians 3: 24-25 there will be a reward for those who do right and also a ‘reward’ for those who do wrong and that there is no respect of persons. That means that nobody gets off. No one, not even the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14, gets a pass.
Pharisees were the keepers of the law. Well educated and knowledgeable they were a cut above the rest of the crowd. This particular Pharisee is praying. First he starts out with all the things he is not. ‘Thank you, Lord, I’m above all the rest of these low-lives, even that sorry tax collector over there.’ It’s pretty brazen but there are probably many who have prayed something similar, or thought it. An old saying goes something like ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. Just exactly what was meant by the person repeating it? Motive is everything.
The Pharisee is thinking, ‘maybe I should let the Lord know just how good I really am. So, he goes on about how he fasts twice a week (only once a year is required) and tithes on all that he possesses (above what is expected of a good Jew). He’s a braggart and suffers from a full-blown case of ‘holier-than-thou-ness’.
The poor old tax collector prays. He feels about as unworthy as a person can get. Standing in a dark corner, his head slumped down; he beats his chest and cries out for God’s mercy. Motive is everything, even on the Day of Judgment.
Copies of the sermon are always available and we would love to send you a CD of it. They are free. Call (417) 543-6219 to get a copy. However, if you would rather just pick one up, they are available at Strong’s Watch Shop in Barnes Shopping Center, Ava.