“The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself; God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men – extortioners, robbers, swindlers, unrighteous, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give tithes of all that I gain. The Tax Collector standing at a distance would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast saying, O God, be favorable, gracious and merciful to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! I tell you that this man went down to his home justified, forgiven and made right with God rather than the other man. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:11-14 (Amplified)
Jesus is speaking in this verse about character, comparing the prayers of a Pharisee and a Tax Collector. The Pharisee starts out by thanking God for not making him like all the bad guys and then proceeds to proclaim all that he does. Though the first man was “religious” his character was full of pride. Pride can be a very dangerous thing, it has led us to war.
The Lord was explaining to us that it is not about religion, but about relationship. The Pharisee did everything he was supposed to do and gloated about it. The Tax Collector realized that no matter what he did humility was what God required.
Micah 6:8 says “He has showed you, o man, what is good. What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love kindness & mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God.”