One of the easiest traps we can fall into is the Comparison Trap. We look at the lives of others and begin comparing ourselves to them. Sometimes we are jealous, sometimes we look down on others, for who they are or the way they live their lives. The trap of comparison can even capture our prayer lives.
After explaining the parable of the widow who persistently prayed, the Lord taught His disciples about two opposite ways to pray: haughty or humble. The self-righteous Pharisee in Jesus’ parable was filled with contempt for others and self-glorification. He thought that because of his “good” life he was justified before the Lord. His posture alone demonstrated his pride and arrogance (vv. 11–12). By contrast, near the corner stood the tax collector who humbly confessed he was a broken man, a sinner (v. 13). He begged the Lord to remove the punishment his sin rightly deserved. For Jesus to use a tax collector as the hero of the parable would have been a shocking and unexpected twist for His disciples. But Jesus was emphasizing the way we approach prayer.
Jesus concludes in verse 14 by explaining that the humble tax collector, not the self-righteous Pharisee, walked away justified before God. D. L. Moody said, “He who kneels the most, stands the best.” So it was for the tax collector. Only those who come to God with an authentic, repentant heart obtain a right standing with the Lord. Jesus wants believers to compare themselves to His perfect life. When we do, we realize that we are all sinners who need to humbly confess to the Savior. The good news is that when we do, Jesus is quick to show us the grace and mercy we do not deserve.
>> Stop comparing yourself to others. Check your heart and motives before you pray. Ask the Lord to help you see your sin, and then honestly ask Him to remove it with the love of the gospel.
Lord, Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that we can’t trust our hearts. Show us our sin and thwart our efforts to deceive ourselves. Replace our impure motives with a deep love for your ways.