This parable deals with the content of our prayers. Here are two men who went to the Temple. The Pharisee was ostentatious in his posture during prayer, by implication raising his eyes to heaven (see v. 13). How important it is that we approach God humbly. When we refer to ourselves in prayer, it should be to confess our sins, not boast of our virtues! Outwardly, the Pharisee was holy. He lived a good, religious, moral way of life. Yet God had no time for his self-centered gratitude. The tax collector (or ‘publican’) on the other hand, just beat his breast, saying ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ This second man ‘humbled himself’ and went home ‘justified’ (v. 14)—that is, God proclaimed him as righteous in his sight. Why? Because of his humility before God. The Pharisee, however, was still in his sins, however good he appeared to men. To be ‘justified’ means to be ‘proclaimed righteous’ (v. 14). It is important that we understand this term, for it is used many times in Scripture. It means more than ‘forgiven’—it means that the person is to be regarded as good and right standing before God. We are justified by God because of our faith and humble standing before Him. God is the one who justifies us and saves us but it is done to us because our faith and humility as put us in that position.