He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

– Luke 18:9-14

What did the Pharisee have that the tax collector didn’t? Lots.

What did the tax collector have that the Pharisee didn’t? Nothing.

The tax collector walked away justified because he “owned” his spiritual poverty, copped to the bottomlessness of his need. He brought nothing to the table.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. — Isaiah 55:1

“Nothing in my hand I bring / Simply to the cross I cling.”

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4 thoughts on “Nothing in My Hand I Bring”

  1. James says:

    Yeah, the tax collector left with something though. God took from him deserved wrath giving him undeserved mercy according the riches of His grace. In the words of Pastor Tullian: "Jesus plus nothing equals everything."

  2. Jared says:

    Yes. He brought nothing and left with the incomparable riches of Christ (illustratively speaking).Or, a la Isaiah 55:1, it's like going to the store with no money and buying wine and bread and milk.Or, from the other perspective, going to the store for those items with lots of currency and hearing, "Your money's no good here."

  3. Ian says:

    I'm not sure theres anything especially wrong with the prayer 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men' because God is being glorified for his actions.The irony of this prayer is that this guy does prove himself to be like other men by exalting himself over the tax collector.

  4. Franco says:

    Thanking God for the wisdom He is giving you to communicate the gospel to his people. Continue the work he entrusted to you. Praying for you Jared!

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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