Luke 18

1 God's method and timing for answering prayer is often different from what we expect. From our own perspective is may seem like God is not listening. However, Jesus wants to assure us that God listens and He is concerned about our needs.
2 Jesus used the worst kind of judge as one of the main characters in this parable. The judge felt he was accountable to no one but himself. His decisions were based neither on what God considered right nor what was best for the people he was rendering judgement for. He was more interested in power than justice.
3 The other main character was a poor widow. God commanded that people take special care of widows because they generally had the least power. Since widows were usually poor and defenseless, people could easily take advantage of or ignore them.
4 Initially, the judge did not listen to the widow's cry for justice because there was no advantage for him to do so. Helping this widow would neither advance his position in society nor line his pockets with money.
5 However, the widow persisted in her pursuit of attaining justice through this judge because she had no other hope. Eventually it paid off because the judge figured it was better to decide her case than to deal with her constant "nagging."
7 The unjust judge is then placed in contrast with God. The judge did not care about people, yet he relented when the widow persisted in petitioning him. God is always just, and He cares about our needs and hears every cry for help. He hurts with us, and desires that we be free of oppression. God acts quickly, but His timing may seem slow to us. We continue to persist in prayer so that we can listen for God's direction, but we do not give up hope that He will answer in the best way at the best time.
8 Persistence in prayer is related to faith. If people do not have faith that God hears and answers, they will give up trying. If they do not believe that God's answers and timing are best, they will try to solve the problem themselves instead of asking God for help and advice.
9 A self-righteous person is one who feels he is favored because of his own good works and merit. A truly righteous person is one who is favored because he trusts and obeys God, and depends on Him to work righteousness through him.
10 The first character in this parable is a respected religious leader know for his strict adherence to the Law of Moses and traditions handed down from his ancestors. The other character is a tax collector -- someone considered by most people to be a sinner and a traitor to Israel.
11 The Pharisee measured himself in contrast with other people. He felt that he was better than other people were because he had not committed the big and obvious sins that they had done.
12 The Pharisee felt he was better than other people were because he took great pains to let everyone know that he was more religious than they were.
13 In contrast, the tax collector knew that he was a sinner. He was humbled in his spirit as he stood before Almighty God and laid his life out before Him. Instead of trying to find merit in his works or comparing himself to others, he simply acknowledged that he had not lived up to God's standards and asked for forgiveness.
14 The tax collector asked for forgiveness and received it because of his faith. The Pharisee had not asked for forgiveness because he thought he was good enough for God already. On Judgement Day, the world will see how God honors those who were humble before Him. They will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven and will be forgiven of all their sins because they trusted in God to have mercy on them. The ungodly and self-righteous people will find that their supposed good and religious works are not good enough to cover their pride and other sins that they were not aware of. A person can not save himself -- He must trust that God will save him through the death and resurrection of Jesus.