Humility in the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:9-17)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody 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 up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—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 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Luke 18:9-17)

Learn it:

            Jesus turns his attention away from his disciples in the first part of this passage.  He begins to talk to people who are prideful and think they are better than everybody else.  He wants to teach them about humility and to do that he uses two people that everyone knows.  The highly respected Pharisee and the putrid tax collector.  He takes the cultures typical opinions of these people and flips them.  Jesus condemns that Pharisee because his prayer is all about himself and how God should be honored at his faithfulness.  Then, he lifts up the tax collector because his prayer displays his need for God’s mercy.  The tax collector is the person we should be modeling our lives after. 

            After that parable, Jesus addresses his disciples because they are getting angry at people who keep bringing their children to Jesus.  They do not think that they are worth Jesus’ time!  Again, Jesus flips man’s understanding.  Not only are they worth Jesus’ time but we should have faith like theirs.  Just like a child is completely dependent on their parents for everything they need, we should be totally dependent on God for what we need.      

Live it:

            It is the theme of humility and trust that link these two stories together.  We must not think too highly of ourselves.  We should measure our life compared to God and when we do that we will always see our need for his mercy.  It is when we compare ourselves to others that pride begins to build up and we say, “at least I am not as bad as so and so.”  Humility is not a characteristic that is always appreciated in our culture but in the kingdom of God, it is highly desired. 

            Second, we are called to have a child-like faith.  That type of faith includes humility because it shows that we get everything we need in life on our own.  It says I need God in every situation.  We cannot do everything on our own.  Pray that God would continue to develop in you a spirit of humility.  That you are aware of your great need for him and how Jesus Christ has covered all of your sins.  Praise God for his great love!

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