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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Luke 18:1–14]

JESUS spoke also the following parable in order that He might show forth the difference between true and false prayer: “Two men went up into the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee, standing, prayed thus with himself: ‘O God, I give Thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in the week: I give tithes of all that I possess.’ But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift his eyes towards heaven, but struck his breast, saying: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I say to you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. Because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Pride. The Pharisee sinned by pride: 1. He thought too highly of himself. 2. He did not give due glory to God. 3. He despised his fellow-men. His prayer, therefore, was no prayer; it was nothing but a discourse in praise of himself. With the utmost pride and self-righteousness he related to God all the good works he had performed (of which, however, he was only able to enumerate two), and implied that Almighty God must be very glad to have such a valuable servant as himself! Is it not loathsome and irritating to see a wretched man dare to extol himself before God in such a manner! Is not pride like this stupid and despicable! Of what good could his fasts be if he did not practise them with a conviction of his guilt before God, and in a spirit of penance? He had no longing for the Redeemer. He asked not for pardon, because he imagined himself to be a perfect servant of God, without sin, and therefore without need of pardon! This shows us how completely pride can blind a man.

Rash judgment. In his pride the Pharisee not only despised his fellow-men, but judged them rashly, putting them all down, collectively, as great sinners. He congratulated himself on not being a robber, and yet, all the while, he was robbing his neighbours of their good name! Pride makes a man uncharitable, for a proud man is so full of self-love that he cannot find room for the love of his neighbour!

A good intention. The Pharisee performed certain good works; but the good which he did lost all merit in the sight of God, because it was not done for love of Him, but only for the gratification of his own pride; and he had therefore no good intention in doing it.

We must pray with humility. The prayer of the Pharisee was worthless before God, because he extolled himself, and judged his fellow men uncharitably. Only humble prayers please God, and obtain a hearing.

The necessity of humility. The chief lesson to be learnt from this parable is contained in the words with which our Lord concluded it: “Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Without humility there can be no forgiveness of sins, no grace, no future happiness. It is, therefore, an indispensable virtue. Even as pride lies at the root of all sin, so is humility the foundation of all true virtue (chapter XXXIX). “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

APPLICATION. Ask yourself whether you are proud or self-willed? Do you give glory to God when you succeed in anything? Do you boast? Are you fond of talking about yourself? Do you take pleasure in praising others, or is it more pleasing to you to find fault with them? No other virtue is of any value in God’s sight, without humility. You owe to God everything that you are, or have, or can do; therefore, thank God and do not offend Him by pride. Be very careful to-day to utter no word in self-praise. Do not tell an untruth nor feign piety.








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