God, Be Merciful!
Many of us have been blessed to have been born into Christian homes. Our parents loved us and cared for us from birth. They weren’t perfect, but did their best to teach us right from wrong and to discipline us when necessary. (Some of us received that discipline a lot more frequently than others!) They told us about God, took us to church and modeled the ways of Christ for us in our home. This was truly a great blessing, and more than likely it kept us from a life which sank into the “deep things of Satan” (Revelation 2:24).
Many (though not all) who did not have the benefit of this Christian upbringing were drawn into the depths of evil. Among such things are sexual immorality of all types, drunkenness, drug addictions, greed (manifested in theft, gambling, shady business practices, etc.), Satan worship, human trafficking (for sex and money), slavery, pornography, abuse of power, etc.
We are aware of such things, but let’s observe this. If a person has never been caught up in any of these things, especially for a significant period of time, they really have no idea what it’s like to be enslaved by Satan in any of these traps. To feel the helplessness, the hopelessness, the guilt, the shame - to be convinced that there is no way out nor even a reason to want out - most of us will never know these feelings or be so totally deluded by such lies.
It is imperative, then, that those who have had the benefit of being reared in a Christian home, be extremely careful about how they view those who have been or even still are caught up in the evil ways of the world. Jesus told a parable about this. The Pharisee prayed, pointed out his own righteous deeds, and thanked God he was not like other people who had been involved in sins and crimes of all sorts. The Publican could only look away from heaven and pray: “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”
I wonder if God saw the self-righteousness of the Pharisee to be a worse sin than anything which the Publican might have done?