TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Romans 3:25-28
Jesus tells a story about a Pharisee and a tax collector who both go to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee prays loudly, thanking God that he is a righteous man, not like other men who are robbers and adulterers, and especially not like that tax collector who is there. He reminds God how he fasts and tithes regularly. The tax collector is unable to pray that kind of prayer. He knows he is not a good man. He could not even lift his eyes to Heaven, so he beats upon his chest and prays, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” What is amazing is Jesus says it is the tax collector who goes home justified, not the Pharisee. Why is that?
The Pharisee is convinced there are numerous good qualities in him. He chooses only to see good in himself and bad in others. However, the tax collector recognizes his only hope is to throw himself on the mercy of God. The Pharisee needs God’s mercy too, he just does not recognize it.
There is no room for boasting about personal righteousness. “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). We are justified by faith in Christ Jesus, not keeping the law.
You and I have no righteousness to call our own. When we stand before God’s throne in judgment one day, He will not see our good works, church attendance, contribution checks, or our Sunday church clothes; our Sunday best will be as filthy rags. He will only be able to see the blood of His Son that has purified us of sin.
Edwin Mote wrote close to one hundred hymns, but in 1834 he penned the words to his best known:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne (emp. added).
Today I will…spend a few minutes in the Gospels to find another parable Jesus tells to illustrate the mercy of God. After reading it, I will thank God for the merciful way He allows me to stand before Him “dressed in His righteousness.”