I am sure that many of you can recall several times in your life where you have been told, and even reminded, about the benefits of proper posture. Maybe it was a grandparent telling you to sit up straight, or your middle school teacher that told you not to slouch, or a co-worker that reminded you to lift with your legs and not your back. Perhaps in your younger days you brushed off these warnings or bits of advice as nonsense. Perhaps you have come to see the advantages of having and maintaining a healthy posture. Whatever situation you may find yourself in regarding posture today, there is no doubt that there are definite benefits and advantages to paying attention to it.
This week I was reading an article on the Harvard Medical School website about the importance that good posture and balance is for the human body. It struck me that there are some very obvious ways to tell if someone has good posture or not. Someone with a keen sense and awareness about good posture could tell just by looking at you or how you carry yourself. It is important to note that having good posture is not necessarily something that comes naturally. In many cases, it requires a bit of an intentional approach to turn it into a habit.
As we continue our series on the parables of Jesus, we come to a setting that is unique to the Gospel of Luke where Jesus touches on proper posture, but not the kind we think of in terms of sitting, walking, or general body alignment. Jesus is talking about the posture of our hearts; how we carry ourselves spiritually; how we approach our Heavenly Father. The two main characters we are introduced to are a Pharisee and a tax collector. These two were at opposite ends of the scale of religiosity. On the one hand, the Pharisee would have been seen as a devout God-follower and the tax collector would have been viewed as a sinful, corrupt traitor. But it is not their outward appearance, social status, or how others view them that plays any role in how God sees them. It is entirely found in their posture in approaching Him. The Pharisee is full of himself and his good, moral behavior. The tax collector recognizes his sin and throws himself entirely at the mercy of God.
For those of us familiar with this story, we know the ending: the tax collector goes home justified in the sight of God and the Pharisee does not. For the original hearers of this story, this would have been a sharp left turn, an unexpected twist to the plot. And even those of us today can miss the greater point that Jesus is trying to showcase when it comes to where we place our confidence and assurance in our standing before God. It is entirely on account of His mercy that we are forgiven.
May each of us, in our posture, identify and relate to the humble tax collector. Let our prayer be that we approach God with a full knowledge of who we are in our need for Him. And let us be blown away once again by the marvelous mercy and grandiose grace of God that sets sinners free!
Pastor Ben Bigaouette