Last Sunday after Trinity 27.10.13 Luke 18.9-14

20 10 2013

True Confidence

Yet another unforgettable little story.  This time about prayer and pomposity.  Sadly it’s a connection that can easily be made.

Luke 18.9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’


To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What does the word ‘righteous’ mean in this context?
  2. What’s wrong with holding others in contempt?
  3. What do you make of the word ‘justified’ in verse 14?

Heart Questions

  1. Have you ever felt a bit like that Pharisee?  Would you call that feeling ‘self-confidence’?
  2. Have you ever felt like the tax collector?  What word would you use to describe that feeling?
  3. How did they both feel after their prayer?

Hand Questions

  1. Who do you hold in contempt (be honest!)?
  2. Do you ever use a repeated phrase in prayer?  Why not join in with the tax collector (and the many who use the Jesus prayer based on it)?
  3. Here’s a challenge: find a way of humbling yourself every day for a week.  Can you do it?


These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.



One response

24 10 2013
10/27/2013 Serve Humbly | ForeWords

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