Here is the revelation that is shaping my life today- it’s all grace and mercy, nothing of me.
Luke 18:9-14 TPT
 Jesus taught this parable to those who were convinced they were morally upright and those who trusted in their own virtue yet looked down on others with disgust:  “Once there were two men who went into the temple to pray. One was a proud religious leader, the other a despised tax collector. [11-12] The religious leader stood apart from the others and prayed, ‘How I thank you, O God, that I’m not wicked like everyone else. They’re cheaters, swindlers, and crooks like that tax collector over there. God, you know that I never cheat or commit adultery; I fast from food twice a week and I give you a tenth of all I make.’  “The tax collector stood off alone in the corner, away from the Holy Place, and covered his face in his hands, feeling that he was unworthy to even look up to God. Beating his breast, he sobbed with brokenness and tears saying, ‘God, please, in your mercy and because of the blood sacrifice, forgive me, for I am nothing but the most miserable of all sinners!’  “Which one of them left for home that day made right with God? It was the humble tax collector and not the religious leader! For everyone who praises himself will one day be humiliated before all, and everyone who humbles himself will one day be lifted up and honored before all.”
Classic right! The bad guy walks away right with God. Here is the key to salvation, it’s got nothing to do with me and my performance but everything to do with God’s grace. God’s forgiveness is available for anyone who sees that they need it. If you don’t need it because you believe in your own goodness, then you will miss it. No matter how much goodness you believe you have, if it’s your goodness that you are relying on there will always be, “one more thing,” you will need to bring in order to be made self right.
Religion promotes self-righteousness, it sets the rules and sits as judge. Religion always has me stand apart from others who I perceive to be sinners, whereas Jesus could not get close enough to those who were sinners. Religion looks at self and says “well done,” whereas God wants us to look at Jesus and say “well done, thank you.” Religion always compares and competes, whereas God wants us to be one in unity and love. Jesus slams religion in his story and sends it packing as absolutely worthless in achieving what it promises – rightness with God.
So the taxman, the one we all hate for the way he lives, goes “home that day made right with God?” Why, because he embraces his brokenness, he embraces his life as it really is, and comes to God with empty hands asking for free mercy. He does not try and pay for he is bankrupt in the goodness stakes. What we fail to see, what we hate to acknowledge, is that we are all taxmen. We are all bankrupt in the goodness stakes.
Now the story does not tell us that the taxman changes his scotch drinking whore partying life that day. It does not say he quit tax collecting and became a philanthropist. We don’t know what life changes flowed from his temple experience. What we do know is that He goes home right with God and that that righteousness is not shaky, it lasts in the forever that he chose to stand upon God’s mercy and grace. Don’t become religious upon him and now make him perform to remain in grace. Grace outperforms all my attempts at goodness. Now also don’t think that change didn’t flow from the intimacy of rightness with God. The key, and this is what we find difficult, is don’t project what life changes should happen, this is the work of God in His life, in my life, in your life.
I will embrace my tax collector brokenness knowing that this is all that is required for salvation to begin and salvation to continue in my life. I will not get saved by grace and then go on being saved by religion. I will stand in my grace-given righteousness all the days of my life, continually bringing my tax collecting life to the one who rescues me.
Thank you that salvation is not works-based, or dependant on my goodness, I will fail any test sent my way. Thank you for forgiveness, mercy, and grace that flows towards me always. Thank you for the freedom to embrace what I am really like, with the hope of healing, deliverance, and freedom always available in you. What a life I get to live, I am blessed.
How often do you allow religion to judge your rightness to come and hang out with God?