“One of these things is not like the other. One of these things doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the other by the time we finish our song?”
Who can remember this song that taught kids how to differentiate between things. In this case Bob and Susan were helping Grover tell the difference in the size of circles.
In the Gospel message from Luke 18, the Pharisee could quite well be singing this song because he was sure that one things (he) was not like the other (the tax collector). But just like our circles, while there may have been some outward differences, there was no substantial difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both were sinners and both needed forgiveness. The major difference, however, was one knew he was sinful and humbled himself and the other did not.
In this respect there is no difference between people. All are sinful and have fallen short of the glory of God. The “saint” needs as much forgiveness as the “sinner” because in the end – as Martin Luther said – we are all simultaneously “Saint and Sinner.” We are saints because we have been forgiven and made clean by Christ and we are sinners because we fall short of the glory of God and always need His forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, help us to live lives of humility and help us to recognize our sinful nature and our need for you in all things. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN.