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Persistent Love, Humble Love
Luke 18:1-14 (Part of our Life Journal Reading for October 5)
Jesus told a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit…He told the next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people. (Luke 18:1; 9 Msg.)
Jesus told these two stories back-to-back, and they teach powerful truths—both individually and collectively…
In the first, a widow—the bottom of the rung in terms of status or hope in that culture—persistently hounded a judge for justice. The Judge in the story was a real work—a selfish jerk who none-the-less figured out peace would only come if he gave in to the widow’s requests.
Jesus goes on to point out the obvious—we have a Heavenly Judge who is quite the opposite of the one in the story. Our Father is perfect Love and perfectly loving. He is quick to hear and respond to those who are quick to pray and persistent in the praying…
In the second story, a tax collector—a most despised and looked-down-upon individual—and a religious leader go to prayer at the same time. The religious leader thanks God for not being like those common people—and especially not like that tax collector.
The tax collector, meanwhile, recognizes his sinfulness and cries out for mercy while hiding in the shadows. Jesus goes on to say that this man—not the religious leader—left that prayer time righteous. “If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you are content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself” (vs. 14).
Don’t miss these points:
v Father desires that we pray with great persistence—that we travail in prayer.
v The most likely persons to pray so fervently are those who are in desperate situations.
v Humility and confession speak to the Father’s heart—not arrogant self-righteousness.
v The most likely persons to pray so humbly are those who are in desperate situations.
v The “heroes” of the stories were a widow and a tax collector—both outcasts.
v The “villain’s” in the stories were a crooked judge and a self-righteous religious leader.
v Father answers persistent prayer; Father forgives and restores the humble confessor.
v The “poor in spirit” are most likely to keep praying; most likely to confess their sinfulness.
Here, I think, is what the Lord wants us to hear: A comfortable, privileged, “blessed” life tends to make our prayers short and our self-righteousness long; and most of us—certainly me—have been very blessed and privileged and comfortable. These stories are both an inspiration and a warning to people like me—to allow the Lord to take me beyond my circumstances into a place of desperate prayer and humble confession—a place where my focus is off myself and on to the hurting world around me…
How about you?