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Lenten Reflections Project 2022

Wednesday | March 16 | Liz McFadzean

Luke 18:9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayer thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The wonderful thing about our God is that he always has a “work-around” for sin.  His work-around is one perfect atoning sacrifice for my sin and the sin of the world.  

I’m pretty careful these days with the word “sin”.  I’ve found it’s a bit of a trap to talk about sin in any instance except in the case of my own.   I’ve noticed that we humans are very good at confessing someone else’s sin, and quite offended when someone confesses our own for us.  I know we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but I can’t see into your heart and know how God is prioritizing which of your sins to work on.

Moses could see the sin of the people who were so fearful in waiting for him to come back from God’s presence on Mt. Sinai that they chose a golden idol to worship.  He was completely unaware of his own propensity for impatience, as he would demonstrate in the wilderness when he struck the rock for water instead of just issuing the command the way God had instructed.  To be fair to Moses, the sin of idol worship by the Israelites was egregious while Moses’ transgression was much more subtle.  But the point is that all sin excludes us from God’s ideal and perfect plan.

At least Moses wanted to atone for his people’s rebellion.  But God said that they would have to take their own punishment.  I wouldn’t have made the offer that Moses did when he said to God, “If You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written.” (Exodus 32:32)  

Oh, but I do!  When I stay awake at night fretting and thinking of how I can “fix” my friends’, my child’s, my relatives’ problems, am I trying to play the Holy Spirit in their lives?  That role is really far above my pay-grade.  

What I can do is pray and throw myself and everyone I love on the mercy of a very patient God, and his “work-around” plan…one sacrifice, once and for all, for all the sins of the world, in Jesus’ death on the cross.  

If you tend to think that God isn’t doing enough, soon enough about the sin of the world around you, remember these words: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)

And look to your own heart, sinner.  Don’t be the Pharisee saying, “Thank you that I’m not like those others.”  Say, like the tax collector, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”


This is how Liz McFadzean describes herself: "For years I have been living my life to 'hallow the ordinary', celebrating the small moments of each day, whether enjoying the beauty of a flower or finding the blessings of life’s repetitive tasks such as folding the laundry. God imbues all of life with holy moments. He is blessed by us when we sit up and take notice." For more, visit her blog: