“God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.”
No doubt, there is a lot we can learn from comparing this to the tax collector’s prayer. However, I thought of this prayer because I read David’s prayer in I Chronicles 29:14-16.
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.”
I notice that the Pharisee admitted that he gave tithes of what he got, not just what was his own. But I also notice that his tone is totally different. David praised God. The pharisee was seeking God to praise him. David offered willingly from what God had given him. The pharisee did what was the rule–tithing. David understood his place before God. The pharisee just didn’t get it.
The lesson for me in this is how easy it is to take a look at my own work and think I’m something great. It is so easy to get wrapped up in my pride and think God is lucky to have me on His side because of all I do. I need to learn from David, however, that whatever I offer to God, whether it is material contribution, physical effort, time, or teaching, I’m only giving back a portion of what God has given me. Why do I have money to use in the Lord’s work? Because God has blessed me with it. Why do I have strength to perform the Lord’s work? Because God has blessed me with it. Why do I have time to spend on the Lord’s work? Because God has blessed me with it. Why do I have intelligence to teach the Lord’s will? Because God has blessed me with it.
God is not lucky to have me on His side. I am lucky to have Him. Of course, as some will point out, I’m actually not lucky. It doesn’t have to do with luck of the draw. God is on my side not because my name was drawn out of a hat, but because He loves me. How on earth could I ever come to God as this Pharisee did and act like God is so fortunate to have me. I need to humble myself and realize how fortunate I am that God has blessed me so greatly.