The Prayer of a Desperate Man
Two people come up to the temple to pray. One notes his own righteousness, based upon his spiritual achievements. The other man stands afar off and blurts out words that are simply a plea for mercy. The Pharisee views his lifestyle as his achievement rather than as God's blessing. Viewing his spirituality as his achievement, he despises others who cannot boast of such spiritual adeptness. He is grateful that he is in the righteousness club. The tax collector is not so much humble as desperate. He makes no claim upon God, boasts of no membership in the group of the righteous. The only thing left for him is mercy.