Focus of the Week: Giving yourself grace brings God’s peace
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:14
Please read Luke 18: 9-14
I have been in much prayer over this week concerning the topic of guilt and shame. I know personally how crippling it can be to a believer in Christ. I want to be constantly aware that the enemy's plot is to weigh me down with accusations of past sins so that I will be too ashamed to speak. My heart's desire is that you and I can nail both guilt and shame to the cross, so we will walk in the freedom of God's intended grace!
Jesus teaches about this acquired freedom and to those who will receive it. In our passage today, we see him telling a story to a crowd of self-righteous leaders about two very different men, praying two very different prayers. One man, a Pharisee, is full of himself, telling God about all his righteous deeds; the other man, a tax-collector, bows his head humbly, and is most likely full of guilt and shame over his sin. The repentant tax-collector came to the right place--he humbled himself before almighty God. Pleadingly he said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (v.13). Jesus commends the tax-collector for his humbled disposition, and he is forgiven. It is also important to see that this contrite man did not leave the presence of God the same way he came in. While praying, he could not even lift his head to heaven, but after his confession and sincere heart of repentance, Jesus said that this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other (v.14). The tax-collector left his guilt and his shame with his merciful God. No longer did he have to bury his head or hide because of his wrong-doings. When Jesus said he was justified, it meant that he had been made righteous, only by God’s grace. It was up to the tax-collector to BELIEVE this gift of righteousness was his, and to CHOOSE to walk freely in it. The same is for you and me.
As we continue our week, where do you need to give yourself grace? Will you? When Jesus said his last words on the cross, “It is finished!”, he meant it (John 19:30). We are most certainly called to be sorrowful for our sins. We can even mimic the tax-collector who would not lift up his eyes to heaven (as he) beat his breast (v.13). But let us also imitate his posture when he got up from his prayer of repentance. Let’s walk away justified and full of peace.
For further reading: Isaiah 53:10-11; John 19:30; Romans 8:31-34
I pray that each one of us will live in the freedom that you intended. Help us to recognize the enemy's schemes of accusing us over and over for the sins that you have already wiped clean from our hearts! May we crush the deceiver and his tactics under our feet and then walk away with confidence, sharing your love and declaring your peace to the world. Amen.