The tax-gatherer said, “Be merciful to me, the sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified … for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:13-14
This is the simplest of the prayers that elicit the forgiveness of God. While it does not contain a litany of specific sins, it contains the agreement with God about sin that is necessary for him to act on our behalf. The tax-gatherer agreed that sin is an infinite insult to the infinitely glorious God, and that he could do nothing to correct his situation. By calling out for mercy, he humbly acknowledged his inability to repair the damage inflicted on the holiness of God’s reputation. The Lord forgives us in this situation so that we will take sin more seriously and learn to fear him more completely. What should make us even more eager to seek God’s mercy is that along with forgiveness, we receive exaltation. God doesn’t just answer our request to have our sins wiped away. He lifts us into his presence. He takes away his anger and he befriends us. The truly godly seek not to sin, but when they do, they seek restoration on his terms. The way up to the abode of God is down the staircase of humility.
“Blessed God, you have not turned away my prayer, nor your lovingkindness from me.” “Make glad the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul,” in Jesus’ name.