Today’s Scripture: And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 8:13-14

Often in the Gospels, we see reference to Jesus eating or talking with “publicans and sinners.” Just who were these publicans? They were tax collectors, but so much worse than just someone forcing you to pay your taxes. These were Jewish men who were corrupt and had sold out to the Roman government. Not only were they taking money from their neighbors and giving the money to Rome, they were also collecting far more than necessary and keeping the extra for themselves.

The publican in Jesus’ parable knew he was a sinner. He was not so delusional as to think that he was alright in the sight of God. In fact, he knew he couldn’t even approach God. He stood afar off and wouldn’t even lift his eyes to God. He knew his condition. When compared to the Pharisee, this publican was actually on a better footing before God. It is a better place to be in – to say, “I am unworthy before God.” Don’t fool yourself into thinking that everything is fine on your own.

Which of these two men did God save? The one who understood that he was a sinner and put his faith in the Lord God. It is the same today. God will save the one who admits he is a sinner that needs a Savior, and places his faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Christian, do not be fooled into thinking that you are okay with God because you have high standards. It is so easy to be deceived. High standards are good to have, but do not fall into the trap of thinking that those high standards somehow make you more spiritual. Ask God to help you live out those standards into a practical holiness.

Devotional by Jim Scudder