“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Luke 18:9-14 We know the rest of the story, the Pharisee raises himself up before God, and the Tax collector humbles himself. While I was in South Africa I met a man who worked as a prison guard at Robben Island. He shared with us his unhappiness to be a part of an apartheid system but that job was how he fed his family. He tried to do what he could to be fair in his own treatment of the inmates but he knew it wasn’t enough. Now whenever I read this parable I wonder if that tax collector felt powerless and if he too had a family to feed. We’ve all felt powerless at some point and time yet even in our powerlessness God is evermore willing to receive us in the same way he received that tax collector. He will not withhold his mercy. He will not withhold his love.
Do not, O Lord, withhold
your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
keep me safe for ever.
For evils have encompassed me
my iniquities have overtaken me,
until I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God. Psalm 40