9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13But 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!’ 14I 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.”
God is not impressed with your contempt.
With this parable Jesus shows us what God is looking for. God is looking for the humble heart. God is listening to the person who will quit the comparison game and admit they are a mess. This tax collector seeks the audience of God.
This one is looking for mercy. This one has heard the penetrating whisper of the Spirit address the depravity of the heart. This one agrees with God. This one confesses without looking for the applause of people.
This one goes home experiencing the transforming-right-making-grace of God.
That’s how God changes a life.