Monday, February 18, 2013

A Tax Collector’s Attitude by Martin Wiles

I was once one so I can imagine how he felt…unappreciated, hated, scorned, threatened, and misunderstood. 

For five years, I worked at a county tax office where vehicle and property taxes were collected. And where property was sold and driver’s licenses suspended for those refusing to pay. My responsibility was suspending driver’s licenses. Most assumed the dealer paid their initial taxes…a misconception some dealers cultivated. When I attempted to collect, I was cursed at repeatedly, threatened occasionally, and hung up on regularly. It wasn’t the most fulfilling job, but someone had to do it…and the boss selected me.

The tax collector’s attitude can be encapsulated in one word: unworthy. Perhaps that’s why he stood at the back of the church with a heavy head and dangling eyes. But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner” (Luke 18:13NLT).

God cast mercy to this societal outcast just as he does to anyone who shows up with a similar attitude. The good news is what materializes when we do. Jesus said he went away justified…just as if he’d never sinned. We do too when we cry out for God’s clemency.

Our forgiveness bath is complete based on Christ’s payment on the cross. He makes us worthy even though an attitude of unworthiness (humility) is still worth hanging onto afterwards. Our new status is not self attained but grace given. While we can’t be good enough for God to accept us, when we approach him with a tax collector’s attitude it doesn’t matter how bad we’ve been. He reaches out to those who reach out. Let humility be your attitude of choice.

Prayer: Merciful Father, we recognize our unworthiness to be called Your children yet rejoice that You adopt us into Your family through faith. May we continually recognize we’re who we are simply because of Your grace.

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