"And He said to some, also, who have
confidence in themselves, that they are just, and are scorning the
rest, this parable: 'Two men went up in the sanctuary to pray, the one
a Pharisee, and the other a tribute collector. The Pharisee,
standing, prayed this toward him self: "God, I am thanking You,
that I am not even as the rest of mankind, rapacious, unjust,
adulterers, or even as this tribute collector. I am fasting
twice of a sabbath. I am taking tithes from all whatever I am
acquiring." Now the tribute collector, standing afar off,
would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his chest, saying:
"God make a propitiatory shelter for me, the sinner!"
I am saying to you, this man descended justified to his home, rather
than that one, for everyone exalting himself shall be humbled, yet he
who is humbling himself shall be exalted,'" Luke
My efforts for the last few months have been toward
showing that none of us have the right to justify ourselves. I am
afraid that, even among saints, there is a great deal of
Pharisee-ism. The Pharisee in the story recognized only a few acts
as being sinful. He was not rapacious, he was not an adulterer, he
treated his fellows with justice, he was not a tribute collector, he
fasted regularly, he paid tithes. Therefore, he was not a
sinner! Little did he know that there are thousands of other acts
that constitute missing the mark, which is the meaning of the word that
is translated "sin."
I have noticed that usually, a person who claims to
live apart from sin, recognizes as being sinful, only a few acts, such
as drinking coffee, using tobacco, etc.
And among other saints, when the word,
"sin," is mentioned, the mind goes immediately to such matters
as adultery, stealing, murder, and a few other matters. They don't
do these things; therefore they are far better than those who
This is not necessarily true. There are other
acts that are just as bad. One can steer clear of the acts
mentioned, and yet do other acts that constitute missing the mark. a
minister was talking to a lady whose son had recently died.
"I guess he caused you much worry and sorrow," he remarked to
the grief stricken mother. It is true that the young man had, for
a while, been addicted to drugs. But he was kind and loving, and
very considerate. The minister who so wounded her feelings, is
filled with hatred for some who do not teach as he does. The
scripture says, "Everyone who is hating his brother is a man killer,"
I John 2:15. Yet the preacher is, in his own estimation, far
better than was the unfortunate man. God does not agree with
Do you miss the mark, dear reader? Perhaps you
are moral, and very respectable. But there may be in your life,
hatred, or intolerance, or spite, or a tendency to anger, or a
disposition to get the best of a neighbor in a trade, or a little streak
of dishonesty, or self-righteousness, or the practice of slandering some
one, or the love of gossip that destroys the reputation of others so as
to be able to hurt them, or a disposition to engage in illegal traffic
because it offers easy money, or a lack of respect for other members of
your family, or a growling, faultfinding disposition, so that you make
your home a place of confusion, or any one of a hundred other
things. If you want to know whether or not you practice sinning in
some respect, just leave off the word, "sin," and substitute
the scriptural word, "missing the mark." This means that
you fall short of perfect conduct, disposition, thought,
Now, what about it? Do you ever sin? Are
you quite as righteous as you thought you were?
It is to be noticed that the Pharisee prayed TOWARD HIMSELF.
This is what every Pharisee does, when he prays. He may not be
conscious of it, but, just so surely as he takes credit to himself for
his "extraordinary" righteousness, just that surely will he
THANK HIMSELF that he is not like others. He may mention the name
of God, but, in reality, he, himself, is the god whom he is
thanking. If we really thank God for any virtue that we have, we
look with pity on any one who is lacking in this virtue, and we
recognize that, but for the grace of God, we would be like the
other. When we look with disdain on those who practice what we do
NOT practice, it is an absolute proof that we are taking the credit for
our being free from that particular weakness. And if we DO take
the credit for it, we are not very apt to think that we have ANY
I have been saying in recent issues of the Messenger
that all saints commit sin, or miss the mark. This article
explains what I mean. I have found that those who recognize that
they often miss the mark are very gracious in their dealings with
others. Paul manifested this same graciousness in his later
years. The family of faith is just what the expression meansa
family. The world is not supposed to have love for us, but we are
supposed to love each other, and sympathize with the fact that all often
fail. All that we do in our dealing with each other ought to be
done with a view to helping.
If a brother is precipitated in some offense, he
needs me to attune him. I may need him to attune ME tomorrow, for
I may be tried.
The tribute collector acknowledged that HE was a
sinner. He laid no claim to merit. It is probable that he
was no worse than the Pharisee. Perhaps the latter was not doing
just the things that he was doing. But, in all probability he was
doing some other wrong things.
The tribute collector showed real desire for the
mercy of God. His prayer is a wonderful supplication, "God,
make a propitiatory shelter for me, the sinner!: No self
righteousness here! He was concerned about his own sins. He
did not say that he was A sinner. He was THE sinner. A girl
once asked me to give her a definition of Pharisee. I told her
that the word describes a person who is concerned about everyone's sins
except his own. The tribute collector was THE sinner.
I am concerned about my own misses. I know that
others miss the mark also. But I do not spend sleepless nights
about it. I do not "hold up my hands in holy horror, and view
with alarm." I know that God can take dare of all their
sins. I do not even spend sleepless nights over my own
misses. I regret them, but I know that my heart is right in the
sight of God, for He has made it so. I claim no credit for
it. I know, also, that I, sometimes, do that which delights
Him. I take no credit for this, either. I would never, even
once, please the Lord if He did not operate in me to will as well as to
work. If there is another who does not please the Lord, I say,
"But for thee mercy of God, I would be just like that
person." And I know that it is in accord with His purpose,
when He leaves me to influences that cause me to miss the mark.
Knowing that I am justified in His grace through the deliverance which
is in Christ Jesus, I am kept from worrying over my own failures.
I praise God that He keeps me.
Perhaps one of the most common sins in America is
gluttonythe habit of eating to excess. It is the immediate
cause of more sickness and death than any other one thing. In the
law of Moses it is classed with drunkenness and disobedience to parents,
and is one of the sins for which one was to be stoned to death. As
much as any other deed, it is "missing the mark." Yet
society not only condones, but actually puts its stamp of approval on
it. It is more prevalent than is drunkenness, on which society
frowns furiously, and it causes damage to a much greater number of
people. There are those who are daily killing themselves with
food, and yet they are horrified at some other sins, that people commit.
Yes, we all miss the mark, some in one way, and some
in another. None of us has any right to be a Pharisee. We al
need to pray for God's mercy, not merely on others, but each one on
himself, THE SINNER.
In the early written ministry of Pauland not
modified laterwe find that the members of Christ are to be very
solicitous for the welfare of each other. The members that are
"indecent" are to be specially ministered to and
protected. Exposing the weakness of saints never does any
good. Such matters ought to be dealt with inside the
"body" and they are not to be exposed to the word. We
find in the later writings of Paul that such dealings is to be with much
graciousness. And saints are also obligated to not expose their
own weakness to the world, which is without charity.
I would really love to see this scriptural method
honestly and lovingly tried by all ecclesias throughout the land.
Some of my readers have sent donations for Middle
Ground Meeting House. I thank them. Perhaps you, too, meant to
do so, but just neglected it.
Brother Freeman Pope, 1911 Walton Way, Augusta,
Ga., is available for meetings. He began speaking in a teaching
way, recently. Those who want his services will please contact
In November I was privileged to hold meetings in
Champaign, Illinois. At the time this is written, November 25, I
am expecting to hold meetings in San Antonio, Texas, including Sunday,
December 15, and a few days before and after. Those interested
will please contact Mrs. Jessie Wesley, 325 Jackson St., San