What life highlights would you list on a job application? (Don’t be modest, you want to look good.)


God’s Story

Read Luke 18: 9-14. Imagine sitting with Jesus as he tells you this story. Read the story as a group with three different people reading the parts of the narrator, Pharisee and Tax Collector.



Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus was never upset with sinners, just with people who thought they were not sinners. And through many parables, he is saying those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.  This Pharisee is a case in point on both counts. His righteousness by the standards of that day—fasting twice a week when the Law only required once a year, and tithing on all he acquired not just on what he earned—is impressive. He was good, even saintly, but this earns him no points with God.


Finding My Story in God’s Story

Which person do you relate to most in this story—and in what ways?

  1. The Pharisee—I, too, have an impressive resumé.
  2. Tax Collector—I, too, haven’t been in God’s house in a while.
  3. The Pharisee—for other reasons and actions I can boast of.
  4. The Tax Collector—for reasons I’m too ashamed to discuss.
  5. Other __________.


I would describe myself as ________. Why?

  1. A sinner
  2. A work in progress
  3. Not perfect, but better than most
  4. A saint
  5. Other __________.


In this parable, Jesus is again telling us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. What do you think when you hear this?

  1. Uh oh. I haven’t been very humble.
  2. It doesn’t make any sense—the rules are upside down.
  3. That isn’t fair—I’ve been climbing the wrong ladder!
  4. This is amazing!
  5. Other __________.


Jesus uses the actions of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in the parable to describe us, his children. How do you feel when you hear yourself described like the Pharisee?  Like the Tax Collector?

  1. Mad – I don’t act like either one!
  2. Sad – I wish I wasn’t like them.
  3. Glad – I’m counting on grace!
  4. Afraid – God knows me better than I do.
  5. Other __________.


Describe a time when you compared yourself to others regarding a specific sin. What thoughts and feelings are going through your mind and heart when you see someone caught in the sin of _____________?

  1. “I’d never in million years do that!”
  2. “But for the grace of God, there go I.”
  3. “Oops! Pride goes before the fall.”
  4. “Woe is me! I do that, too.”
  5. Other __________


How does Jesus’ Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector shape how you would react in the future when making such comparisons?


Our Story

The Pharisee was righteous, and the Tax Collector was authentic. Based on this parable, where do you need to humble yourself so that God can show you mercy?


If there is anything you need to confess relative to others in your group, take time for this.


Then close your group time in prayer, taking cues from what this parable teaches about praying. Whether aloud with others, or silently and privately on your own—do so humbly before God.