“Two men went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner’.” – Luke 18:10-13
How many times have I compared myself to the person next to me and thought, ‘at least I don’t do that…” Far too often! It is so easy to compare myself to others and make myself look better for the sake of not looking like a tax collector. The tax collector’s life was much harder and looked down upon than the Pharisee and yet he had the best attitude, knowing that he was in need of God’s mercy and so undeserving. The Pharisee, on the other hand, was overcome with pride, comparison and judgment which got in the way of him seeing his need for God’s mercy.
Comparison is a dangerous thing and often leads to a prideful fall. I often look at other sex/porn addicts and tell myself, ‘Well, at least I don’t struggle with that or at least I don’t look at it this much.” What it really comes down to is that I struggle just like the other addicts and I am in need of as much, if not more, mercy than they are.
When we can come to the end of ourselves, much like the tax collector did, we can see our true need for Christ and our true identity, apart from our sin. More often than not, this happens when we are at the lowest of lows and have hit rock bottom.
On my own journey I have found that when I see my true need for mercy and stop comparing, I am more able to see that I need God and cannot do this alone. When this realization happens, I have found more strength to fight.
Next week will mark 100 days free of porn and I cannot be happier. This has been the farthest I have gone without porn in over two years and it has not been easy to get to this point. I truly am happy that I am here and have come this far but still need to adopt the attitude of this tax collector and say “Have mercy on me, oh God”. I cannot begin to think that I am a “better” Christian or addict because I have come this far. I have to still cling to the fact that I am in need of God’s mercy and always will be. I think of that saying, “pride comes before the fall” and know that Satan will take my prideful self and wrestle me to the ground. I have to stay alert, focused and humble. When I can do this I know that, with God by my side, I can be successful. I am looking forward to celebrating 200 days, 300 days, a year, 2 years.
Now what happens if/when I do fall again? I will get back up and say, “Have mercy on me, oh God.” His mercies will be anew and I will get back on my way.
May you find God’s mercy and understand that although you (and I) are broken and in desperate need of it, He loves us so much and offers it so freely.