Read: Psalm 32:1-7; Luke 18:9-14
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(NIV Psalm 32:1-7)
“9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 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. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (NIV Luke 18:9-14)
Study: Asking God or others for forgiveness, and accepting it, starts with being honest. Often our first challenge is to be honest with ourselves. Most of us are expert at rationalizing even our biggest failings. But we repeatedly see in the lives of public figures that even if we know we’ve missed the mark, we think we can hide that from others, even from God. The psalmist wrote that keeping silent, trying to hide the truth, drained him of energy and life. How do you see yourself at your deepest level in relation to most others—as “less than” or “more than”? How can Jesus’ image of God’s forgiveness and love for the outcast tax collector help you see more clearly how God values you? How can God’s love and grace help you maintain a healthy sense of spiritual need without sinking into a sense of contempt, either for others or for yourself?
Pray: Lord Jesus, show mercy to me, a sinner. Forgive me and grow me beyond both the sin of contempt for others and the sin of self-contempt. Let me live in the atmosphere of your forgiving grace. Amen.