Luke 18:9-14 “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
There is a rumor. Most of us have heard about him/her. They’re legend… wait for it… ary! Who, you may ask? I am talking about those spiritual discipline “legends”. I met one once. At McDonald’s, a man told me he has read the Bible every year for 40 something years. Maybe you have met one too. More times than not its one of those “I know a guy who knows a girl” kinda thing. “This lady has memorized the entire Bible.” “Oh yeah? I know a guy who knows a guy who has memorized the entire new testament in Greek!” Years ago I met a man who wouldn’t leave his prayer closet until he got his answers from God. He didn’t eat or sleep. He just prayed. And then he told me about it.
I heard a story. I heard about a woman who did a horrible thing. One of those things that marks you for life. She is now wrestling with the truth of the Gospel, but just doesn’t know if God could forgive her. Recently, she made a profession of faith, but she is still haunted by her terrible sin. She trusts in Jesus but she feels to guilty to get in her Bible and she gets confused when the pastor uses big theological words like “Theological.”
The first paragraph is one type of person. The second paragraph another. Both live long lives. One grows in popularity because of his Islamic like discipline. One got the accolades of man and the type of peace that only a good performance can bring. The other lived a hard life, never really finding the peace that the Gospel offers. She stumbled forward. She was never fully accepted in community group cause she perpetuity doesn’t get it.
One stands before the Lord hearing the words “Justified.” One stands before the Lord and receives the word “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.” One enters into eternal peace and joy. The other? “Depart from me. I never knew you.”
One was a unlikely saint.