May 5, 2021
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
Since we are discussing marriage relationships this week, our passage choice here might be a bit puzzling. “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector?” you’re thinking. “What the heck does that have to do with marriage?”
Well, how about…. everything?
My wife and I visited a gift shop early in our marriage, and I found a tiny plaque to hang on our apartment wall. It contained some good, simple advice:
“A happy marriage is when both spouses think they got better than they deserve.”
Over the years I’ve lost track of the plaque, but thankfully the sentiment has lingered. And I’ve learned this is really not only good marriage advice, but an idea that can impact every single relationship in my life.
“…In humility count others more significant than yourselves,” Paul instructs us in Philippians. But honestly, have you ever noticed how hard it is to actually do that consistently? We exercise our humility muscles now and then and feel good about it, but pride is a subtle and ever-present plague which constantly rears its head. If we examine our daily actions and thoughts, we find we are often striving to be “correct” in our disagreements, or working to somehow be “better” than others, or raising our prospects above those of our friends or family, sometimes even subconsciously.
But the Tax Collector gets it. His eyes are not on the Pharisee, but rather on God. He does not compare himself to the Pharisee, but compares his actions to God’s standard. He understands life is not a competition to get ahead, but rather a life to live out faithfully before God. And all our relationships, marriage included, are to mirror that same humility.
So what do you think? Do you “get it” like the Tax Collector?