Based on Luke 18:9-14
The heart is the spring of life. The Bible clearly tells us to examine our heart. It is a deep looking within as we look at our motives, our responses, and our desires. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector can help to show how we should examine our heart and what it looks like.
Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector going to the temple to pray. As we read, we can learn what it means to examine our hearts. There are examples of both the good and the bad of what it means to examine our hearts, to look at our hearts the way God see them.
The Pharisee compared himself to others around him and not to God’s standard. We are always able to find people that we think are worse then ourselves but that is not really examining and looking at our own heart. That is justifying, “I am not as bad as . . .” The Bible does not say, compare your hearts to others and see how you are doing but tells us to examine and search within. The words examine and search have a meaning of taking time, looking hard and deep. God sees the heart so we need to learn to look within our own heart. The tax collector does that by comparing himself to God’s standard. He looks within and sees his sin. He makes no excuses, does not compare it to others but just calls himself what he is, a sinner.
The Pharisee continues by listing all his accomplishments, the things that he has done for God – fasting and giving tithes. These are the outward things that he does. The only thing that the tax collector sees is his sin. He realizes that even his righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s eyes. How easy it is for us to do things, even doing things for God and want to list our accomplishments as good things but God wants our hearts. He wants the things deep within. When we come with all our accomplishments, we can easily have little need for God. We need to come like the tax collector realizing the condition of our heart and thus our need for God.
The Pharisee is full of pride as he prayers. His prayer is full of “I’s”. The prayer is about himself, the things he has done. Even the posture of the tax collector displays his humble heart. He is bent down not even looking toward heaven. He is focusing on his own heart and not those around him. He looks within and sees his heart as God sees it.
Don’t look outward like the Pharisee at all the things that you do but look at your heart and see your heart as God sees it. See your sin and your need for a Savior but also see the mercy of God.
We can learn a lesson on how to look within with from these two individuals. Learn to humble yourself, look inward and compare yourself to God’s standard. As you realize the condition of your heart, realize that God has grace and mercy as we humbly approach God. God wants our hearts.