‘Word from Scotland’:It Really Is Another Of The Sacred Secrets
In Luke Chapter 18 in these opening verses, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is telling, and teaching His disciples to pray, and to go on praying, and never to lose heart, and not to give up. We all need to hear and receive that positive and encouraging Word.
We saw how Paul put all this into practice in his own life and ministry. Paul knew who Jesus was – and he also knew what Jesus wanted him to do – and we have read of how he served and worked and witnessed and prayed – travelling and preaching and ministering during a period of 30 years.
One of the secrets was not to give up praying – not to lose heart – even when being opposed and persecuted and challenged in all kinds of ways.
Jesus goes on to teach us how to pray properly – not only persistently – but penitently – repenting – being open and honest and real in the presence of God and in the sight of God. It is an open secret if we wish to grow into spiritual maturity, but very few pay much attention to it.
We go on to verses 9 to 14. There were some people who regarded themselves as a bit above the rest – somewhat better than others. They were confident of their own righteousness – their own good deeds. I remember reading a letter in the papers five years ago – "Where can I redeem all the Brownie points I have collected over the past 50 years?" That is some question. Someone has been doing a lot of good works – and they are looking for a reward – assuming that they were actually collecting Brownie points.
This is where we have to repent of our good deeds as well as our bad deeds.
Verse 9 – "confident of their own righteousness". Paul had a strong word to say about his good deeds.
A religious leader – and a man who was a bit of a rogue – went to church. Sometimes they can be different people. Sometimes they can be the same person. Sometimes, we do not know who is who – but Jesus does.
The Pharisee – the religious leader – didn’t really pray. He only spoke to himself. His words got no higher that the ceiling. He praises himself and not God. He is so sure of his own goodness, as he lists the faults of others.
Now, all he was saying was true, but it wasn’t the whole truth. There is so much of self in these words – I – I – I – I. He was such a proud man.
It was as though he were saying – "What a fine fellow you have got to serve you." He must have regarded himself as an upright upstanding pillar of society. Yes – he was – hard and cold. He didn’t need an answer to his so-called prayer. He was saying – "I’m fine – I’m all right – I’m not like him over there." If you try to whiten yourself you are pretty certain to blacken others!
But – over a bit – this needy sinner realised that he so needed God’s Mercy. Perhaps he saw that he was all of these things listed in verse 11. He saw himself as he really was. He saw himself as God saw him, and Jesus says that he got right through to God.
Only one man actually prayed. This rascal who humbly comes, repenting – went home with God’s Forgiveness and Approval and Blessing.
How do we go home from times of Praise and Worship – with our prayers heard – knowing that our praises and worship has been accepted by God – and not being confident in our own righteousness but trusting the righteousness of Christ. Being justified – ‘just if I’d’ never sinned. That is what it means. The man who confessed his need returned from prayer justified.
That is what Jesus Christ offers us – Forgiveness – Blessing – that feeling of being justified – acquitted by the Judge. That is something powerful.
How can we receive all this? The words of Jesus which follow can help. He who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Here is another secret which very few people know about, but you can not only know about it but experience its truth.
–Sandy Shaw http://www.liveasif.org/