At first blush, this parable seems very straight forward. The Pharisee ‘trusted in himself and regarded others with contempt.’ In more contemporary language, he took undue pride in his own behavior and thought he was better than other people. The Pharisee is exhibit A of what not to be. Pride goeth before a fall! The way to be exalted is to be humble. Unfortunately, the moment we attempt to NOT be somebody because they are lesser people, we become the Pharisee— the very person we were trying not to be.
Lord, I have no idea where I am going. I cannot see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following you does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Let be so.
Vernon Gramling is a Parrish Associate at DPC. He has been providing pastoral care and counseling for over 45 years. You can find more about Vernon, the Faith in Real Life gatherings and Blog at our staff page or FIRL.