Jesus teaches us how to posture ourselves in approaching God throughout chapter 18 of the gospel of Luke. In the parable of the persistent widow and the healing of the bling beggar, with persistence (vs 1-9; 35-43). We see in the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector, the need to approach God in humility (vs 9-14). We see in verses 15-17, that we need to approach the kingdom of God as little children. As we learned with the Rich Ruler, we must be willing to give up earthly riches (vs 18-30).
In our culture, persistence is a quality associated with determination, the accomplishment of goals and performance. But with the persistent widow and blind beggar, they approach in deportation. They have no other options. No one else to turn to for justice (widow) and healing (blind beggar). Both of these stories, teach us the need for both prayer and worship. We should be persistent in doing both!
In our approach to God (and with each other), we need to come in humility. The prideful Pharisee makes demands and boasts of his credentials. Whereas the tax collector recognizes his own sin. We too have nothing to boast about except for what Christ has done for us through grace. Romans says: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v 5:8). James tells us “But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Luke 18: 4:6).
Another quality we should exhibit is approaching the kingdom of God as little children. There is a beauty in the innocence and trust little ones have in approaching their parents. I remember when my children were young they would hold their arms up to be held and comforted by their mother and I. I don’t know of a better illustration of how we should approach the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). We are to receive the kingdom of God as little children!
The Rich Ruler seemed to have done everything right but still lacked one thing! The cost of being Christ’s disciple is high. It cost everything! All wealth is God’s, we are merely stewards of what God has put in our care. The parable of the talents illustrates this very well in the gospel of Matthew (Mat. 25:14-30). We are to invest our gifts and resources into God’s kingdom where the dividends are eternal! In short, we must approach God willing to give back what he entrusted to us. We are merely stewards.
I’ll end with this quote from Jerry Bridges “With whom do we identify, the Pharisee or the tax collector? The prodigal son or the older brother? Obviously, no one wants to identify with the Pharisee or the older brother. But are we willing to identify with the tax collector and the prodigal son, as sinners deeply in need of the grace and mercy of God? Are we willing to say, “God, be merciful to me the sinner” or “I am no longer worthy to be called your son”? Are we willing to acknowledge that even our righteous acts are no more than filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6)?” (Holiness Day by Day).