Luke 18:9-14 NLT
“Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[a]: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.””
The direct meaning is clear. If you have confidence in your own righteousness and works God will humble you. If you have confidence in God to declare you righteous by His own mercy, then God will exalt you.
The Pharisee knew of his works and had confidence in them so much that he boosted of them before God, and on this foundation was asking God to bless and exalt him.
The tax collector knew his own sinfulness and asked God to have mercy on him. He had confidence in God’s faithful kindness and love to forgive him and on this foundation to bless him.
God wants to be the one to show off His good works. God wants to exalt Himself by showing off how great His works are. He wants to put His mercy and unmerited favor on exhibit. He does not want man to steal this weighty value from Him. Think about how great God’s works of mercy and love are. He wants to show off to you how great they are. Because of God’s nature and covenant, we have unmeasurable confidence to rely on God’s working mercy and love for us.
God wanting to exalt His works of grace and love, exalts us when we seek Him to lavish us with His grace and love. In exalting us in love and grace, God also exalts His good works.
We do not have to beg. God likes it when we ask God for such things. In sovereign freedom He made the promises of grace and love. He wants to do this. He is looking for those who will lean hard into His faithful mercy and love. He is not annoyed when you do. He is the Father sees you from afar and runs to you. He puts the best robe on you, with sandals and a signet ring. He wants to do this. Have confidence to run to Him. He is faithful; He will do all the good things His promised. God exalting you with grace and love is His plan. Do not doubt, only believe.