He Trusts Alone that God Forgives
With heavy heart and leaden feet
The drang of people, clang of prayer
He crosses through the crowded street.
It makes him wonder why he’s there.
A pariah to his countrymen
He feels contemptuous stares of wrath
His job disreputable, but then
God sought him for a different path
This God-man he’d heard on the Mount
Who spoke of hunger, thirst for right.
Not power, nor gold, nor self could give
A man who healed, gave blind their sight.
As tax collector, he’d done wrong
Took more in tribute than was due
Yet truth in Word, the Light was strong
And showed him what he must pursue.
Arriving in the Temple, he
Stayed well behind a Pharisee
Who cast a glance about him, then
With upraised arms and voice began:
“Lord Thank you, I’m not one of these
Who steal, extort, take what’s not theirs
I fast, I tithe, I pray to please
Unlike that man, my conscience is clear.”
The man shrunk more, as if he could
be swallowed by shadows, he felt as naught
With downcast eyes, alone he stood,
beat his breast and poured his heart out to God:
“Oh Lord, have mercy on this old sinner.”
He stood in silence with head hung low
There was nothing more he could offer
And then he slowly turned to go.
Now Jesus saw the heart of both
The way which leads to holiness
Yet not the works of man who strove
But he who trusts God’s Righteousness
And as the penitent heart with trust
Looks not to commend itself to God
Yet Hope is merciful and just
He waits abased, upon the Word
And nothing to the Cross he brings
But his own self deep set in sin
And trusts alone that God forgives
He trusts alone that God forgives
Inspired by a sermon on justification and the scripture passage from Luke 18: 10-14 (New International Version)
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people- robbers, evildoers, adulterers- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.