Parables #5: Let our assurances not become self-sufficient! – Luke 19

Parables #5: Let our assurances not become self-sufficient! – Luke 19

sermon Gospel of Luke 19 : Paul Yersin, 2023_06_20, AB Lausanne church

title : Parables #5: Let our assurances not become self-sufficient! – Luke 19

Parables 5: Let our assurances not become self-sufficient! – Luke 19

May our assurances not become self-sufficient!

    In a room in a retirement home, an elderly pastor was trying to imagine and count the imprint left by his ministry.

He was finally disillusioned and saddened.

One of the churches where he had spent more than ten years had completely closed, even the building had been razed for parking spaces.

However, he had worn out his health to serve God who had called him to the best of his ability.

He had set aside teenage dreams and imposed on his family paths that not all members had followed.

    As he prayed, weary and dejected, he remembered the experience of the apostle Paul and imagined him in prison, at the end of his life.

Mechanically, he picked up his Bible and opened it. His eyes fell on a few long underlined verses:

I am not saying that we are capable, by ourselves, of conceiving something as if it came from us. But we should know that

#Our ability comes from God.#

##He has also enabled us to be servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life##.

2 Corinthians 3. 5 – 6

These words brought a balm to his heart.

An hour later, there was a knock on his door.

A young man introduced himself:

“ Do you remember me? Leo! The little rascal who was disrupting your Bible studies!”

It was precisely a child of the famous now dissolved community of which the old servant had just thought.

Leo said:

– “ I kept your teaching, even if I was not the most attentive. I owe you who I am. I have just finished my theology and before soon beginning my ministry as pastor, I wanted to see you again and ask for your blessing. ”

The old pastor wiped away a tear and thanked God, who had seen his despair and wanted to reassure him. It’s not in all cases that

  Model listeners are the most deeply affected

And it is not necessarily those who, apparently seemed the least concerned, are necessarily the furthest from a strong relationship with God.

Kinda the same idea today

This is what we find a bit in the parable that I propose to read today in

Luke 18. 9-14

A parable

A parable a spiritual illustration

A quick reminder, a parable is a fictional story that Jesus tells to explain and help us understand a spiritual truth.

A parable awakens

In general, to wake us up, there is often a complement to habits.

A parable works by comparison: the situation of the story told by Jesus is compared to the situation of our lives.

A parable to impact our lives

And so the spiritual aspect highlighted in the fictional story of Jesus must or should appear in our lives.

The Reason and Context of the Parable

To take full advantage of the parable, it is always valuable to clearly identify the reason why Jesus tells it, it will help us to specify in which area it applies.

Clues at the end of the parable

A little trick, often at the end of the parable, Jesus brings either the conclusion or a useful indication.

So 3 means for understanding parables:

Know the reason and the context,
the comparison and,
the truth which emerges from it aided by the indications of Jesus.
A parable for our lives

It is useless to have understood if it does not have an impact on our lives.

Luke 18. 9-14


9 He tells this parable again,

for some people who were convinced they were righteous and looked down on others:

The parable

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray;

one was a Pharisee,

the other a tax collector.

11 The Pharisee, standing, prayed this prayer to himself:

‘O God, I thank you that I am not like other men, who are thieves, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

12 I fast twice a week and tithe all my income.’

13 The tax collector stood at a distance and did not even dare raise his eyes to heaven, but he beat his chest and said,

‘O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

Final precision

14 I tell you, when he went down to his house, he was considered righteous, but not the Pharisee.

Indeed, everyone who lifts himself will be humbled,

and she who humbles herself will be exalted.”

Luke 18.9

For some people who were convinced they were righteous and looked down on others.

This text is ultimately quite general, we have understood: if it targets the Pharisees, it targets the attitude, the religious spirit that is hidden in each of us and has one of its perverse effects of self-satisfaction and self-sufficiency.


Religion works by “I do”, so I honor spiritual things:

It reassures me,
it values ​​me,
it elevates me above others who don’t have as much credit…


I reinforce myself to such an extent that in spirituality, even God, takes a back seat. He is relegated to the role of witness to “what I do well”. The most important thing is that I’m happy with myself, it’s trendy, right?!?

Divine intervention to prevent us from self-sufficiency

Jesus is preventing His people from self-sufficiency, as it is for us today.

And in this prevention, He would like to alert us and help us to detect this mechanism in us and to transform it into something living, and relational with Him.

Prevention by a shocking image

To do this, He tells a story a parable, a little shocking for the time.

A bit like in the campaign against tobacco or discourtesy on the road…

The Pharisees were devoted people, considered attached to God and the tax collectors as traitors because they worked for the Roman occupier, for foreigners. And, in addition, they took advantage of the situation to line their pockets.

I don’t know how Jesus would have told it this morning, maybe a bit like

The “wow” side (shocking)

10 “Two men went up to AB Renens to pray, one was the pastor, the other a cross-border social worker.

11 The pastor, standing, prayed this prayer to himself:

‘O God, I thank you that I am not like other men, who take the work of the real Swiss, who pay little tax and especially in France, live with a girlfriend, or even like this “Frouze”.

12 Me, I gave my life to Christ in a camp at Le Roc, I was baptized and I did 4 years at the IBG. I go to worship and home groups and almost tithe in the box (when I don’t forget).’

13 The “Frouze” in social services, kept his distance and did not even dare to raise his eyes to heaven, but he beat his chest saying:

‘O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

    Strong Interpretation 

You see the counterpoint that Jesus brought in this parable: it was shocking! But the goal was to wake up the consciences so that they include/understand the comparison. And that we, too, understand the comparison that this story induces.


The divine approval for the repentant betrayer in the face of the self-satisfied, contemptuous religious attitude is compared to our habit of finding ourselves spiritually far better than others, even putting ourselves on a pedestal, because I am worth it.

Central Truth

#May our assurances not become arrogant self-sufficiency#.


##Indeed, if we have a life of rich faith in Christ, we have many eternal assurances in Christ, we are holy, God dwells in us by His Spirit, and God gives us his wisdom.

What we do for Him can strengthen self-sufficiency which shouldn’t be so##

God takes into account what we do for Him, even if everyone does not see the constraints and the sacrifices that I make for God, God sees them (on the moral level, business, ministry, sentimental, etc.).
I may have resisted juicy shenanigans that no one would have seen, adulterous or immodest situations, I may be very generous, I gave up an exhilarating career, etc. Certainly, because we know for whom we are doing it.

Very flattering self-assessment

But these assurances, these life decisions can lead us to evaluate ourselves very favorably; for the non-believer, it gives:

“I didn’t kill, I didn’t steal, I didn’t rape, so God will take that into account…”

In the believer (and this is no longer the subject of today):

“I did a lot for you all the same and I refused myself a lot of things for you…”

God only has room to validate,

The problem is that I am the evaluator and God’s only place is to validate what I have deemed favourable.

While He’s here to forgive us.

In the situation of the tax collector, the latter has a fairer view of his situation, God is called upon to forgive.

2 lines of thought to keep in mind

The 2 axes of reflection to be retained are:

God owes me recognition of the problem of self-gratification / God’s need through repentance.

The first attitude demonstrates a bad look at the greatness of God (the Pharisee challenges him), and the second attitude shows a correct perception of the greatness of God (the tax collector does not even dare to raise his head).

2 Clues

As I said at the beginning, Jesus often gives us clues to refine our understanding.

Intro of the word

And in his introduction, Jesus dedicates his parable to certain people who were convinced that they were righteous and who despised others.

Luke 18.9


Seeing oneself too beautiful, and relegating God to the role of cash register leads to rising above everything and, ultimately, to despising those who are not on the level or in the same thought process.

This great satisfaction can radicalize us towards those who are not or who do not and it starts with contempt; in fact, if I despise a person or a category of people, it’s because I necessarily consider myself above them, and it may be that God only has room to validate my “super-ideas”.

Conclusion of the parable

Luke 18. 14

14 I tell you, when he went down to his house, he was considered righteous, but not the Pharisee.

The approval of God is clearly on the one who has put God in his rightful place and who has, therefore, had a step acceptable to God.

Luke 18. 14

Indeed, everyone who lifts himself will be humbled, and she who humbles herself will be exalted.”

And Jesus’ conclusion confirms what we have been able to perceive in the story: the problem indeed comes from the fact of seeing oneself as too beautiful concerning God and in relation to others. Whereas a right perception of the person of God enlightens our way of thinking, of acting, and of addressing ourselves to God.

May our assurances not become self-satisfaction, or self-sufficiency!

This very simple short parable led me to meditate and I share this journey with you.

Do I despise someone?

Is there anyone I despise?

If yes, why?

What indications does this reveal of my relationship with God?

Value of our commitments

It happens that we do things for God that are committed, they take time, and we renounce things, these commitments take strength, time, and finances, and they direct the course of our lives, and of our families.

What do our commitments to God entail?

How do we view these periods, these commitments, these positions?

Does God owe me anything?

Does God owe us anything for this?

Luke 17. 10

You likewise, when you have done all that you have been commanded, say, ‘We are useless servants, we have done what we had to do.’”

I did it

Do we look at them as a “wow” or I did it!


I lived it (implied with Christ), In the sense that God allowed me to live this committed situation.

Transformation of the gaze

We are full of assurance in God, through Christ.

May these assurances feed our recognition, not our self-satisfaction or our self-sufficiency! May God transform our perspectives…

The pitfalls of prayer

When I pray, I have two tendencies: to present my shopping list to God or that God counts my good points (and this is no longer the subject of this morning).

I will read a few verses to end:

Do I despise someone or a group of people? What does this hide from God and my neighbor?
Does God owe me anything for what I’ve done for Him?
Do I consider these commitments as personal achievements or did God take me with Him?
In my prayers, is God finally the witness of the things that I do well, with the secret desire that He takes them into account as I would like?
Ephesians 2.8-10

8 For it is by grace that you are saved, through faith.

And it’s not from you, it’s God’s gift.

9 Not by works, so that no one can boast.

10 In fact, he is the one who made us;

we were created in Jesus Christ for good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.

Philippians 2. 13

Indeed, it is God who produces in you the will and the doing for his benevolent project.

Matthew 6. 5-6

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites: they like to pray standing in synagogues and on street corners to be seen by men. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is there in the secret place; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Bible Passages

Matthew 6:5

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Luke 17:10

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

2 Corinthians 3:5

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Philippians 2:13

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Related Links / Notes

Theme : the Parables of Jesus

Study Notes are translated from the original French version prepared by the pastor Patrice Berger. The orginal French notes are in “note” form, and are not a direct transcription of the video, however they are quite close the original text preached at the church. The notes provided here follow that form, and are detailed enough to help provide a deep understanding of the texts of the parables.

All services as well as some of the bible studies are streamed on the channel  YouTube église AB Renens-Lausanne.  Also visit the You Tube channel of the Swiss Action Biblique Youth Groups (JAB Suisse Romande)/ Facebook.

Bible verses in the study link to the Bible in Basic English (BBE). which is available as podcast on Spotify


  • L’Antichrist, Les antichrists, Christ, God’
  • s Son, Eternal life, Assurance, Communion, Perseverance, Discernment, Holy Spirit,