Years ago, I attended a reception with my father-in-law. And the father of the son we were honoring began sharing his thoughts about his son. But first, he shared remarkable attributes and accomplishments of his grandfather and his father. He went on to share the same about his grandmother and mother, too. He finished by telling his son how proud he was of him and the path he was taking. He reminded him he was a “can do” person like the rest. It was a meaningful moment for sure.
Well, my father-in-law gave his speech next about this son. He shared about his family but in a little different way. He told how his father went bankrupt during the depression. And how he had to continue to feed and clothe six children. He spoke about himself being a high school dropout with no future. But then, with a twinkle in his eye, he spoke about a God who had made all the difference. He who helped him experience what his own father longed to but couldn’t. And he went on to honor this son for choosing to follow and fulfill what God had called him to.
My father-in-law truly understood that it was God who had blessed his life beyond anything else.
Jesus shows the importance of heart attitudes when it comes to living truly blessed.
He compares the heart of a religious leader to that of a tax collector. Tax collectors were considered crooks and despised by most people. But, it’s the tax collector, in this parable whose prayers were heard and answered. Let’s see why.
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get,” Luke 18:11-12.
The Pharisee was confident in his own righteousness. He was proud of all he himself had done right. He also had a condescending attitude toward others. He was glad he was not like these other “people.”
Jesus didn’t want others adopting these same attitudes as this religious leader. So, he showed them through this tax collector two attitudes that would bring the right response.
A contrite spirit
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast” (Luke 8:13).
Beating the breast was an outward sign of humility. He was reminding himself that God was holy and he was not. I remember Mom doing this at times in my catholic church. It was often during Holy Week when we were hearing about Christ’s sacrifice. Knowing how much we need God puts us in a place to receive from God.
A confident spirit
“But the tax collector stood at a distance ... and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’” (Luke 18:13-14).
This man understood that only God could judge hearts. And only God had the power to forgive. And he asked to be forgiven, and he was. In fact, Jesus said it was the tax collector who went home justified and not the Pharisee.
Let’s practice living with heart attitudes that bring heaven’s best.