Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
When I was a child in church I remember a priest who would always sing along with the music group that played during the mass. He wasn’t a very good singer. Eventually people started to grumble about how bad he was and complain that he sounded so bad. When he heard about what the people were saying it responded by saying. “If god doesn’t like the way I sing he can change it anytime he likes”. It’s important to remember that god created us exactly how he wanted to. If there was even one thing about us he didn’t like he could change it in an instant. We weren’t born to be perfect in the worlds eyes but instead perfect in his.
God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are; nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are; nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are; nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are.
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
A Pharisee trusted in himself that he was righteous, prayed with himself, thanking God he was better than other people. Note the Pharisee’s emphasis on self, exaltation of self, and his failure to see his sins.
The Tax Collector pleaded for mercy admitting he was a sinner. Note the conclusion in v14 - One who exalts self will be abased, one who humbles self will be exalted! Humility is the opposite of self-exaltation and self-righteousness.
A preacher once preached a sermon on this story and afterward a man prayed, “Lord, we thank thee that we are not proud like that Pharisee”! He was doing the very thing he was saying he was not doing! We are all sinners. We have no right to look down on anyone as if we deserve salvation because we are so good, and they don’t deserve it. We can be more righteous than the Pharisee, but only by humbling ourselves like the tax collector and calling on God to forgive us.