Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

By Sharon Kaponda

When I was growing up especially the time, I reached the age of going to church with my siblings, Sunday school was a must. My parents were so religious, absconding prayers would earn you chastising and some beating. I grew up believing that those who go to church would someday go to heaven. In those years, the good boys and girls were those in choirs. At least one of my siblings showed interest to sing in one of those choirs.

With pressure from our parents. I decided to join one of the choirs just like my brother did. It was disastrous. My voice betrayed me. You see I have this husky voice that the choir master said would not add value to his choir. I left. I do not know whether I understood him at the time.

Youths should gear themselves to take up positions in higher places

In my view I did not need to go through rigorous trials to find a place in the church choir. Afterall this was not Westlife or some serious music group that needed a professional soprano or tenor. I felt that the choirmaster judged me. He should have helped me to fine tune my voice and be part of the praise and worship team. When I am alone, I sing. When I am happy, I also sing. I still think that if I had continued with that choir, perhaps I could have been one of the top recording artists in Malawi, and who knows, maybe even beyond our borders.

I have moved on to accept what I am. I am thankful to God for what I am. I am contributing to the development of my country through so many ways because of what I am. I go about motivating the youth to do the same.

I find a lot of fascinating lessons from the Bible and in my church. These are lessons that can help us as individuals as well as a nation.  We must stop looking down upon ourselves as failures or people who are not capable. Do you remember the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector?

Here is the story from Luke 18:  9-14: “Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: ‘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 like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. 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.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will  be exalted.”

There are situations when youths have been told pointblank that they are not mature enough to take up big positions in the civil service or in the private sector. Sometimes this is done to frustrate a brilliant youth with a promising future. I urge the youth to stand up and claim their positions because this is their time to do so.

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax Collector is a typical example of people who think they are better than anyone else because they are obsessed by their own virtue. These are the people like the Pharisee who say “I am not like these other people”. The youth of Malawi are not like these other people. They are equally brilliant and can deliver once given an opportunity serve.

It is possible for the youth to succeed

Why then should the youth continue to feel intimidated by people who are not even their  match when it comes to possessing academic credentials? I say the youth themselves are to blame for accepting to be treated like second class citizens. Don’t let people like the Pharisee in the parable intimidate you and make you feel as if there is nothing you can do in this world.

The best thing to do is understudy those that are above us and learn how they go about delivering the desired goods at the workplace, in church, in the field, just anywhere and in any situation. It only takes courage to face the world.

In my case, I refused to be intimidated by that choirmaster in those years when I was young.  Although I did not make it to the choir, I moved on to do other things and I still praise the Lord for everything. As youths you must also refuse to play second fiddle and get those positions in higher places.