Big Idea: We all come to the Son of Man on equal footing.
Why is one person blessed by God, while another struggles? There will always be a mystery to some of these scenarios because God's plans are beyond our comprehension. Sometimes there is no reason that we could ever know. Part of the problem is that our understanding of a blessing is too superficial, and one person may be poor in earthly possessions, but rich with God. Our heavenly Father, and the Son He sent to save us, are primarily concerned with the state of our hearts. It is our heart that ultimately leads to the blessing of fellowship or the curse of separation. To take a simple act of devotion, in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told a parable of two prayers and the men who prayed them. One was accepted and the other rejected. Why?
The Pharisee, faithful and religious, prayed with bold confidence. He waltzed up to the Temple, lifted up his eyes to Heaven (the normal pattern for prayer in the entire Bible) and thanked God that He was not a sinner like other people - including the tax collector he had walked past - and told God about the good works he did. The tax collector did not approach the Temple and beat his chest as a sign of mourning, simply recognizing his sin and asking for forgiveness. God rejected the Pharisee and accepted the publican because the first trusted in his own hollow righteousness and the second trusted in God's mercy, which we receive by faith in Jesus' sacrifice. If we want intimacy and blessing from God, the only path is to recognize that we could never deserve it.
Pride is a particularly dangerous sin because it is always within arm's reach. Even when we are doing something good, pride is crouching in the shadows, waiting to pounce and consume us. The Pharisee looked at the tax collector and sinned even in his prayer. But let's be careful, lest we read this story and say "I thank You that I'm not like other people - or even like this Pharisee." Self-righteousness is the enemy of self-awareness and pride is the enemy of blessing.
Discussion idea: How can we follow God without being proud? Why is comparison with other people always a losing game, whether we think we are doing well or not?
Prayer focus: Pray for God to break the brokenness in our hearts that leads us to compare ourselves with others, and simply come to Him through the cross.
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