But the tax collector . . . would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)
Expanded Passage: Luke 18:13–14
One evening, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the heaviness of a broken friendship. At that moment, my heart was broken over the role I had played in putting the relationship in its current disordered state. My friend and I were at the point where we knew there was nothing I could do to reverse the damage, and it was entirely up to her to step in my direction, if she wanted the relationship to continue. I wept over what had been lost. I had never felt so exposed and hurt by my own mistakes. I needed to accept my role in the conflict, feel my relational poverty, and then simply wait. It was up to my friend to walk toward me in forgiveness for our relationship to be restored.
In this parable, the tax collector had become so overwhelmed with guilt that he could not even look toward heaven while he asked for forgiveness. He recognized and took ownership of his sin and his need for mercy. He was truly aware of his wrongdoing, but he didn’t have to wait for his forgiveness. Jesus teaches us here that it is only when we are humble before God that forgiveness can be received. This tax collector embodied the first beatitude—Blessed are the poor in spirit—as he recognized his need for a God who wanted to forgive him.
Seek forgiveness by acknowledging your inadequacies and brokenness.
Holly Atkinson is a pastor’s wife, mother of two girls, and a graduate of OKWU and Wesley Seminary. She currently serves as an assistant principal at a private school in Florida.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.