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THE WRONG WAY TO THANK GOD

November 21, 2011

HOW NOT TO GIVE THANKS
11-20-2011

When we think of Thanksgiving we think of family and turkey dinners.  Images of the pilgrims flood our minds.

This morning we are going to look at how one Pharisee thanked God and then glean lessons from him about the wrong way people give thanks to God.

Text:

Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

In this text we have an example of the wrong way to give thanks.  It is a lesson in self-righteousness and hypocrisy, as well as looking down our noses at others.

This is the wrong way to give thanks.

Noticed in the parable we read in verse 11 that the Pharisee prayed thus within himself.  The Lord obviously heard many a prayer like this.  It is amazing some of the things that people pray and some of the ways they give things.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THIS PRAYER?

In this world many times we think of things to be thankful for.

How do we give thanks in a similar manner?  Consider how comparing ourselves with the misfortunes of others seems to be the source of our thankfulness.  Are we being like the Pharisee? Is it necessarily wrong to look at the misfortunes of others and be grateful that you are not like them?  What makes what this Pharisee said to be so wrong?

1.    I’ve heard people so often say…. AS THEY SEE OTHERS WITH BAD HEALTH, for this is the most important thing …

2.    Others are most thankful for good families–wife, children.
All around us we see families who are no so fortunate.  Consider the 50% divorce rate … and so many disfunctional families.

3.    I have heard others say they are most thankful for living in America, the land of opportunity. We see the poverty all around us in our land of freedom and prosperity.  I am thinking of a fellow from Russia who has a master’s degree in music and makes $200 a month to teach in a university in Russia.   I am thinking of an African fellow who related to me that he makes about $150 a month as a teacher in Africa.  What a contrast this is to what we have in the USA.  Now compare this to our teachers who are making $40,000 a year and go on strike.

4.    I have heard others say the greatest thing they are thankful for is that they have a good job as they see others around them without jobs.

5.    Still I have heard others express that the most important thing in their lives is their husband or wife, and they are most thankful for them.

6.    WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE FORMS OF GIVING THANKS THAN WHAT THIS PHARISEE DID?

I.    NOTE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW NOT TO THANK GOD–A 
WARNING ABOUT MISSING THE BOAT WHEN IT COMES TO THANKSGIVING.

Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

So often. we miss the boat when it comes to giving God thanks.

1.    As we see others around us who are in dire straights..  we tend to be thankful based on our observation of others, rather that true thing that we need from God.

We others with bad health and think, “I am thankful I don’t have that …”
We see others with bad marriages …
We see others with poor jobs …
We see others in oppressed nations …
We see others, etc., and this is the basis of our Thanksgiving …

This is not to say we should not appreciate the fact that we have what we have, BUT WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL.

Note:    This Pharisee was thankful that he was not like other men…

Extortioner
Unjust
Adulterous
Publican.. etc..

This is not having a proper spirit of Thanksgiving.

Because in fact we are all alike others–in our sin and in our passions.
So often we are a bit like the Pharisees.  The fact that this Pharisee was not an an extortioner or unjust or adulterous or a publican had nothing to do with him; and in fact, in his sinful nature he was all of these things.

Examples of this:

A.    WE ARE THANKFUL WE LIVE IN THIS COUNTRY because we see what other people have and are going through in other countries.

We had a fellow here on an apprenticeship from Africa.  He said the lucky ones in his country were the ones who were taken to America as slaves.

B.    We are thankful for our husbands or wives.. when we look and see what other men have.  We say…

I am  thankful for the wife … husband I have … yeah …

Yes, you should be thankful, but is their a bit of the Pharisee in you when you say that? Do you take the credit for that?

C.    As we see what some people have to go through to make a living, we say, “I’m thankful I don’t have to do that.”

Yes, you certainly are fortunate if you have a good job.

But do you really think that it is because of any good thing in you–above the other fellow?   Sometimes I fear that we may think God smiled down on us because of some virtue that we have.  Is there a bit of the Pharisee in us?

II.    Note the error of this Pharisee:

Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as

1.    HE THANKED GOD HE WAS NOT LIKE OTHER MEN.
His mistake was that he was comparing himself to other men..

It is pharisaical to do so..

The truth is: we are all alike.  We are all sinners.
Is one sin greater than another?  Maybe in man’s estimation.
Sin is sin, and sinners are prone to sin.  In that we are kept back from sin often has nothing to do with us, but God’s protective hand in our lives.

We are all alike and given the right or wrong circumstances we all can fall into just about any sin..

He said I am not like other men.  THE BIBLE SAYS “All have sinned.”  Sin  is common to all men…

Notice his list..

Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are],

extortioners,
unjust,
adulterers, or even as this publican.

2.     Say I have never committed adultery, yet the sin of adultery is or has at one time or another been in every sinner’s heart.  Jesus said if a man looks a a woman to lust after her he has committed adultery in his heart.  

I heard one man say that it is “okay to look but not to touch” when it comes to immorality.  Yet when Clinton was asked why he committed immoral acts he said…  “I did it for the worst possible reason. I did it because I could.”  The reason some men do not commit the act is because they can’t–but in their heart they would if they could.

3.    You say, “I have never been an extortioner or dishonest in my business dealings.” Yet there is never a sinner who has not entertained the thought.  

III.    Mistake #3 in his thanksgiving prayer:  He really thought that he was able to escape these dreaded vices in his life because of his own efforts

I fast twice a week…
I give tithes of all ..

He thought that these were the reasons God smiles down upon him.  He was missing the boat completely.

Do you really think that you, through your righteous efforts and deeds, could accomplish anything?

Today if you have good health, don’t think that it is because of your own self-effort and hard work.

Good marriage?  It is not because of the wisdom you had in choosing a good spouse.

Good children? Don’t spread out your feathers like a peacock.

Adam did the same things with Cain that he did with Abel…. go figure what went wrong.

There is a bit of the Pharisee in all of us in this regard …

Note:    If your condition is better than others, it has very little to do with you; it is by the grace of God and His mercy.

Here is an illustration to consider concerning Abraham and a fellow by the name of Abimelech.  NOTE:

Genesis 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She [is] my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou [art but] a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she [is] a man’s wife.
Genesis 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?
Genesis 20:5 Said he not unto me, She [is] my sister? and she, even she herself said, He [is] my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
Genesis 20:6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.
Genesis 20:7 Now therefore restore the man [his] wife; for he [is] a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore [her] not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that [are] thine.
Genesis 20:8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

Note the Lord corrected Abimelech and said..  I kept you from sinning.  It was not because of the integrity of your heart …

If we have not committed certain sins, God is the one that should get the credit–not us.

Who gets the glory for all these benefits you have received? Do you really think it is because you deserve them?

Do we really think it is because we are better than others?

Did we choose to be born in the United States? Who decided it?

In fact, most of the blessings we can be thankful for we had very little to do with.  The mistake of the Pharisee was that he gave himself the credit for what God deserved.  It was not his own righteousness that gave him these benefit–it was God’s grace.  No sinner should look down his nose at any other sinner.  The old proverbial coinage puts it well:

“There but for the grace of God, go I.”

IV.    THE GREATEST LESSON TO LEARN IS ONE THAT WE LEARN FROM THIS SINNER AND PUBLICAN WHEN IT COMES TO THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN THANK GOD FOR (WE LEARN IT FROM THE PUBLICAN)

Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Here we have a publican, a sinner.

He prayed for Mercy..  he cried out in his miserable condition.
God heard his prayer..  and he left there receiving what he prayed for.  I believe he also was thankful for God’s mercy..  There was no self-righteousness that he could have nor tendency to puff himself up!

In all things we should be thankful for His mercy.

It is His mercy that has allowed us the health that we have.
It is His mercy that allows us to have family, a wife, children.
It is His mercy that allows us to be delivered from temptations.

It is not that we deserve it.

By the way, it is through his mercy we receive the greatest gift …

THAT IS THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR SINS.

If we do not see our need to be forgiven of sin how can we ever be thankful for it!!!

1.    HE WANTED GOD’S MERCY AND FORGIVENESS AND WAS THANKFUL TO RECEIVE IT.

2.    THIS SINNER LOOKED TO GOD FOR THE GREATEST GIFT OF MERCY AND FORGIVENESS.

We do not receive anything from the Lord because we deserve it.
All we receive we receive because of God’s mercy.

What we all deserve is God’s wrath and punishment.  Anything less is mercy.

Lamentations 3:22   [It is of] the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

Did you ever notice Daniel as righteous as he was, in his prayer confessed his sins and the sins of the nation equally–HE DIDN’T SAY THEY HAVE SINNED. IN HIS PRAYER HE SAID WE HAVE SINNED AGAINST YOU.  He included himself as part of the problem.

Notice in his prayer HE CONSISTENTLY SAYS.. WE HAVE SINNED …

Daniel 9:5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
Daniel 9:6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Daniel 9:8 O Lord, to us [belongeth] confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
Daniel 9:9 To the Lord our God [belong] mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
Daniel 9:10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

Jerimiah said it is of the LORD’S mercies that WE-WE-WE ARE NOT CONSUMED..

The Pharisee really thought himself different from this publican and sinner.

We are all alike.
We are all in the same boat.
We all deserve the same penalty.

Every time sin was judged in the Bible (like in the wilderness), it was judged so others could receive mercy and be protected from temptation.

A.    When Phinehas executed judgment on Zimri and Midianitish woman it was so the rest of the congregation could receive mercy.

Numbers 25:7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw [it], he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
Numbers 25:8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
Numbers 25:9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

B.  When Achan was stoned for his sin, he was stoned so the rest of the congregation could be recipients of God’s mercy and win victories they didn’t deserve.

C.    When the man was stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, he was executed so the rest of the congregation could learn and receive the blessings of God for obeying the Sabbath.

D.    When a doctor injects Chemo therapy into a patient,  he does so in order that the patient could receive healing.  

The Chemo is actually a killer of cancer–but too much of it will kill the patient also.

This Pharisee was over-kill with his judgment against sin.  We should hate sin, but let us remember it is the spread of it we hate.

V.    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE FORGET TO BE THANKFUL FOR GOD’S MERCY AND FORGIVENESS?

In the spiritual battle we can easily forget that as our Lord’s servants we should be about the same commission as He was.  He came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost.  He said in Matthew 9:12 ” They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”  A physician’s job is to heal, but through his neglect he could do harm.

I went to a doctor’s office because I was having a problem with my throat.  My doctor sent me to a specialist.  In his office he was using foul language.  I could tell they had no heart for their work or compassion or concern.  The doctor prescribed a certain test.  He just a matter-of-factly signed the papers and told me to go here and there.

When I went to get the test I said, “Wait–tell me what this is all about.”  As they described what they were going to do, I realized the side effects of the test could be far more damaging than the little annoying issue with my throat.  So the physician was not a good physician; I believe he was over-kill in his treatment of the patient.  His foul language was a manifestation of a wicked heart that would be translated into his work as a physician.  I  walked out of the office realizing that doctor (I believe) had little heart for his patients.

I had a similar thing happen to me but again, but it was averted by a person who cared.  Years ago I had terrible allergies and a doctor proscribed allergy shots.  I had a nurse in the church who was kind enough to give me the shots.  As I started that new series of shots, she looked at what was prescribed and said, “This can’t be right.”  We called the doctor and discovered the doctor in haste made a mistake in the dosage.  The dosage he wrote could have killed me.  The nurse cared more for the patient than the doctor.

These Pharisees were supposed to be the spiritual doctors of the nation.  They had little heart or concern for sinners coming to  repentance.

WHEN WE FORGET THAT  WE ARE SINNERS JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE WE CAN BECOME COLD AND MATTER-OF-FACT ABOUT SIN.  THIS IS WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO THIS PHARISEE.

His treatment of the sinner was over-kill.  Yes, we should have a disdain for sin, but only because of what it does to lives. But let us learn to realize that we should have compassion on the sinner as our Lord did.

Let us always remember we too are sinners.

Lesson of Matthew 18:  the servant forgot he too was forgiven.

VI.     WHAT CAN WE DO TO KEEP IN MIND THE IMPORTANCE OF SEEING OURSELVES AS GOD SEES US AND KEEPING A SPIRIT OF THANKSGIVING ALIVE IN OUR HEARTS ?

              
1.    Ask God to show you:

Psalms 19:12 Who can understand [his] errors? cleanse thou me from secret [faults].
Psalms 19:13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Tom Gentry, a dear missionary who is now with the Lord, once told me how that he asked God to show him his heart and life.  When God did, he was devastated and couldn’t get out and around for two days.  He said it was a life-changing experience.  I think the same would happen to all of us if God would ever show us our hearts.

2.    Get to know God..  AND GET YOUR EYES OFF OF MEN.

Job 42:5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
Job 42:6 Wherefore I abhor [myself], and repent in dust and ashes.

There is never a person that has gotten close to God..  in deep prayer and devotion but has not gone away with a lesser opinion of himself and a greater opinion of God.

When we compare ourselves with God, we are in trouble.

THIS WAS THE MISTAKE OF THE PHARISEE..

Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Conculsion:

This Thanksgiving the greatest thing we should be thankful for is God’s mercy on us.

BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER.  HE HAS.  NOW LET US THANK HIM FOR IT.

If you are saved, He has been merciful to you, a sinner.
If you have a family, He has been merciful to you, a sinner.
If you have your health, He has been merciful to you, a sinner.
If you have a good job, He has been merciful to you a sinner.

We learn a greater lesson form the publican.  His prayer was LORD BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER.  The Lord heard his prayer and this is something to really be thankful for!

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