Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other, for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
When most of us hear the “Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector,” we are expecting a sermon against self-righteousness and for humbleness. I heard a different take on it, however, one Sunday as I gave my sermon at my personal care home.
Our residents are men with “different abilities,” who read at a low grade level and who tend to think more concretely than abstractly. Some seven or eight come to services with me and together we read, discuss, and apply Bible passages. It’s really a lot like my vocabulary studies were when I was teaching, and being their pastor is one of the joys of my life. I have learned though, that many times they will find something in the study that even top commentators miss.
In discussing the parable, I asked how the tax collector was different from the Pharisee. Based on my experience, I expected someone to say that the Pharisee was pretty stuck on himself, and was bad for putting down the tax collector. God gave Daniel a Word, though, that God didn’t give me.
“The tax collector was the only one who really prayed,” Daniel replied.
Before anyone thinks, “out of the mouth of babes.,” let me assure you that Daniel is not childlike. Daniel has some limitations, but he also has that “different ability” that helps him think outside of the box. While Daniel needs a lot of support in self-care and money management, he is close to God and takes the Word as it is given, and allows the Holy Spirit to help him comprehend.
I think we can say, “Dare to be a Daniel!”
Lord, you bless us all in different ways, help us to see the beauty in everyone and the wisdom they bring.
Go with God!