This week's sermon focused on two men who go to church to pray. One follows the rules and does all the right things. The second describes himself as a sinner who does a lot of bad things. Both men had come to church to pray but Jesus says only the sinful man's prayers were answered. If true, then why should I keep all the rules? Why not just do what I want and then beg forgiveness? Why be "good" when "bad" seems to get the same just reward? The answer is the good man bragged about his "goodness" and used it as a weapon against others who weren't as good as he was. He looked down on the sinner and judged him while the sinner knew that he was unworthy. So, what do we do with this story this week in our own lives?
Following God's commandments is difficult and can only be done with God's help. We can't do it on our own. Our rule following and good behavior can be used as an example for others, not as a weapon of moral superiority. We are all like the tax collector: none of us is above the need to beg God for mercy. Being humble keeps us close to God, feeling superior to others puts us far away from God. Asking God every day to do the right thing doesn't make us better than anyone else, but it does make us closer to God.