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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
October 26, 2013

[NOTE: This message was originally published October 26, 2001.]
   "Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people ¨ robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.'
   "Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, 'God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'"
   Jesus commented, "This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself."

Luke 18:10-14 (Message*)

It is good to worship regularly, tithe and practice spiritual disciplines. But such things won't necessarily make us right with God. We need to be careful not to fall into selfrighteousness, but to engage in spiritual practices with humility ever conscious of our need for God's grace.

The tax man was deeply aware of his need for God's mercy. He exemplified the humility with which we need to come before God, conscious that we fall short and need God's help.

There is a tradition in Orthodox spirituality, also practiced to some degree by other Christians, of repeating some version of the tax man's prayer over and over. It is called The Jesus Prayer. In Friends in Christ, we use this prayer from time to time, and find it very helpful in bringing us closer to God. You may find it helpful as well.

Bill Samuel

* The Message version © by Eugene H. Peterson.

©2001, 2013 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 02-Nov-2013 20:08:25 EDT