NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Explore the Bible curriculum.
Bible Passage: Luke 18:9-17
- How does a person’s over-evaluation of our own rightness lead to contempt for others?
- What makes self-righteous pride a fatal character flaw?
Food for thought:
Being around a person that is never wrong can be grueling. We are rarely the focus of any of the conversation since it will always be about him and his rightness. Their arrogance and pride do nothing to endear us to them. We would much rather be in a room filled with people who demonstrate honesty and humility. We at least know that we will be heard and have a place in the conversation.
In Luke 18, we are told about a parable shared by Jesus that highlights the problem of self-righteousness. He told of a Pharisee who listed his religious accomplishments in a public prayer. Not only did he tithe but he also fasted twice a week, even though Leviticus 16:29 tells us that Jews were commanded to fast only one day a year on the Day of Atonement.
The Pharisee was contrasted with a tax collector who pleaded with God to have mercy on him, a sinner. The tax collector was not focusing on where he stood morally in relation to others, since that did not change his status before God. He was a sinner regardless of how he compared to others. Jesus noted that the tax collector walked away justified before God while the Pharisee left with his self-righteous arrogance still intact.
The tax collector had done nothing to earn God’s justification. And that is precisely the point. This parable gets to the heart of the Gospel. The Pharisee was trying to justify himself by his good deeds. The tax collector knew he could not justify himself. He cried out for God’s grace and God justified him. While the Pharisee could not see his need for grace because of his self-righteous pride, the tax collector could see only his need. If we want God’s grace, we must first see our need for His grace. We can then humbly approach God and seek the forgiveness we so desperately need, knowing that His forgiveness comes only through faith in His Son.
Explore the Bible
Explore the Bible is an ongoing Bible study curriculum that helps groups dig into the key truths of each Bible book, while keeping the group on pace to study through the Bible books in a systematic way. More information can be found at Lifeway.com/ExploreTheBible.