This Week’s Main Idea:
God bestows mercy on those who admit their inability to attain it for themselves. God approves the repentant heart.
When you were a teenager, what group were you and your friends most likely to look down upon? What is one characteristic you had as a teenager that may have caused others to look down on you?
Jesus teaches us that His kingdom is given to a far different group of people than the ones traditionally thought to have earned it, because an attitude of repentant humility is required for being right with God. Pride is the father of all sins, and the sin that repulses God from our lives. Jesus divides all humanity into two groups: not good and bad, but humble and proud. We must replace pride with humility.
Read Luke 18:9-14
1. What were some of the things the Pharisee was proud about? What have you been proud of?
2. From what you see in the story, why do you think the Pharisee would have come to the temple to pray?
3. How would you describe the attitude of the tax collector? Why do you think he came to the temple to pray?
4. In what ways did the tax collector express humility before God? What was the significance of his various actions?
5. Why was the tax collector the one who went away justified (in right standing before God)?
6. What is your normal posture when you pray to God (kneeling, sitting, walking around, etc.)? How does body position or posture affect the way you feel while you pray to God?
7. Why do you think Jesus used a religious leader as his example of pride and a sinful tax collector as his example of humility? Couldn’t He have told the story the other way? Explain.
8. How does this parable impact your thinking about God and righteousness?
9. How do you feel right now in terms of your own standing before God? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with “1” being “totally ashamed and humbled before God, like the tax collector” and “10” being “feeling pretty good about myself, like the Pharisee.”
10. Humility doesn’t come naturally. What is one thing you can do this week to help you develop an attitude of humility before God?
Suggested prayer request:
Thank you, God, that you see the heart and you judge rightly. Thank you that redemption isn’t earned by achievement or goodness, but is a gift of grace. Help me to identify areas of pride in my life and to develop a greater measure of humility in me in my understanding of who you are and who I am.
Other Scriptures to Engage with this week:
Nehemiah 8:8-12, Romans 10:5-13, Matthew 13:44-46, 1 Peter 4:12-19, Hebrews 10:32-39