Thanksgiving: Thanks for Nothing

Thanksgiving: Thanks for Nothing


Luke 18:9-14 (ESV) ~ 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.”


In this season of thanksgiving, we have been talking about, and still need to talk about, all the things we have to be thankful for. Many, are thankful for their worldly possessions, while others are thankful for more personal things such as health and life. But what if we looked at HOW we give thanks?


Look at the Pharisee in these verses, he begins his prayer by giving thanks, but look again at the verses and notice the HOW.


Superficially, this man was thankful for something, spiritually, not so much. But, God does not honor gratitude with an attitude, He will not bless a prayer offered in pride.


  • Self-Sufficient
    • This man used prayer as a platform on which to perform.
    • Notice the things he points out in his prayer:
      • I am not like other men
      • I don’t steal, cheat or commit adultery
      • I do fast twice a week and pay my tithes
    • On the surface, we might think his prayer is impressive, however, it lacks character, humility.
    • Life has reached its peak for this man, he has a lack for nothing, no sense of need.
    • No need for bowing, tears, confession, repentance or God.
    • Our greatest need all year long, but more importantly at this time of year, is our need to recognize our NEED for MORE of God.
  • Self-Absorbed
    • The NLT starts this prayer like this, “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there!”
    • The Pharisee used his prayer as a put-down.
    • James 4:6 (ESV) ~ But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
    • What is your attitude when you approach God? Is the cry of your heart, “Thanks for nothing” or “I am nothing?”
    • Remember God gives grace to the humble.
  • Self-Deceived
    • The Pharisee went to a good place, the Temple.
    • The Pharisee went for a good reason, to pray.
    • YET, he went home unchanged.
    • Look at verse 14 one more time.
    • Are you aware of how much you need God? Are you concerned about those around you? Are you truly changed after prayer and worship?
Pastor Andy Lambert

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