A Therapeutic Rendition of Luke 18:9-14:
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own piety and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men wanted to please God. One was self-sufficient, and the other was a broken man who needed help. 11 The self-sufficient man stood proud by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like them—cheaters, sinners, broken people, adulterers, those who grieve. I’m certainly not like that weak man! 12 I go to church twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’13 “But the broken man wept bitterly at his pain and the harm he inflicted on others. He dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he felt the weight of his guilt. Instead, he tore at his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I have sinned and failed greatly.’ 14 I tell you, this broken man, not the self-sufficient man, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be broken, and those who are broken will be exalted.”
I see the courage of the broken man regularly in my office. I counsel clients every week who are ready and willing to address their darkness and come to peace with their glory. These men are bold and brave; ready to repent and change their lives. Repentance always comes with pain; contrition without struggle cannot be trusted. Cheap repentance is now commonplace, taking the form of manipulation. If someone is authentically broken, it will be evidenced by gut-wrenching life change.
I also hear the delusions of the proud and the abusers who are so blinded by self they cannot clearly see their sin. They will trample anyone who stands in their way, many times using God to justify their contempt, masking it as piety.
I have resembled both of these positions at different times in my life. The self-sufficient man feels much more comfortable to me than the broken one, but the times in my life where I have courageously entered my brokenness, I have experienced God much more fully. Maybe Jesus knew what he was talking about after all.