Are you a Pharisee or Tax Collector?- Glad Tidings, KL

Nov 25 2012, by Adeline Lum CM-


On November 24th, I attended Glad Tidings with Reverend Julie Khoo leading the sermon! A charming and animated lady, she stressed how quick we judge a person by the person’s hairstyle, height, figure, muscles, the car one own and the clothes one wear.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are yellow, black or white, Jesus love the children of the world,” said Julie.



When you come to church, everyone looks good and you think that everyone is happy and rich EXCEPT me. It is so easy to bypass people who are feeling lonely, hurtful and suicidal inside. Why? Often times, we do not see the person’s heart like God. But we judge them from their external appearances.

A parable in Greek is called paraboleh, which is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus often used that to relate to us.

“Jesus is so down-to-earth! We need to be down-to-earth to people, don’t act like a Pharisee,” said Julie. “We equate success with health and wealth but success lies in the eyes of God.”


Today, Julie talked about the prayers of a Pharisee and a tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.



The Pharisees were despised because of their righteousness; while the tax collectors were despised because they were cheaters of the people’s money.

Auditorium of Glad Tidings


“It’s okay to have self confidence but if your self confidence brings you to self righteousness, then it’s not okay,” said Julie. “We need to root our self confidence in the Lord.”

Selecting two men from the audience to role-play as the Pharisee and tax collector, Julie made “the Pharisee” stand on an ostentatious and prominent place, praying aloud and spreading their hands wide to the sky. They want to be seen and heard!

The prayer of Pharisee is prideful, self-righteous and scornful while looking down on everyone. But the prayer of a tax collector is humble, needing forgiveness and esteem other’s as better.



Following the ten commandments of Moses to the law, they thanked God for not being a robber, evil doer, adulterer, tax collector, and voiced their commitment to fast at least twice a week and tithing 10 percent of their income.

Julie shared how she felt self-righteous driving at 80 km per hour on the highway. She followed the law, and every car that passed her didn’t! As each car drove by, she would say fail, fail, fail! That is the attitude of a Pharisee.



But the tax collector was different! He stood at a distance. Many of us stood away from God, because we feel that we are unworthy. Outwardly, the tax collectors have everything. Many times, when we judged a wealthy person as proud, while the poor as humble. Why? Because we judge a book by it’s cover. But nobody knows this except for God.



What is the result? The Pharisee went home prideful but unjustified by God. While the tax collector went home hated but justified by God.


Matthew 23:12

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.


Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.


“Humility is not something God put on you. It is so clear that in this verse that we need to CLOTH ourselves in humility. It is a willful choice!” said Julie. Unfortunately, humility is not found in the world today, as shoving and stepping on people to get our ways are acceptable.



1 Peter 5:6

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Some of you asked why God did not favor you? Could it be pride that becomes the essence of disfavor? 

Why is it hard to forgive someone when you have the right to be right? Because of pride and ego, it is hard to forgive. This is what we call as an attitude problem.



The meaning of attitude is an internal position or feeling with regard to something else.

“If you feel that you will fail a task or not be able to cope, then you will fail. How many of you wake up and cheerfully shout, Praise the Lord?” said Julie. “Wake up with life! If you do not feel the need to rejoice for the day, you will find yourself dragging through it.”

Pastors have a lot of things to do, from wedding, to birth, to a funeral, all in one week.

“Why do I want to be a pastor with a negative attitude? Have a joyful and positive attitude! If you position yourselves as a failure, you will fail,” said Julie.



  • Peers would rather do a job alone than work with you
  • Discussion at a meeting goes dead when you speak
  • You insist that work be done your way or you would rather hoard the work
  • Direction is always questioned
  • You consistently criticizes, competes with, or dismisses the work of others


“If an egg is broken by an outside force, a life ends. If an egg breaks from within, life begins. Great things always begin from within,” said Julie.


When you look at the storms, don’t think you would drown. But think that this is an opportunity to meet the Prince of Peace to overcome the waves of the storm.



  1. Identify and repent your bad attitude

Acts 8:22

Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.

  1. Submit and subject your negative attitudes. Someone who’s constantly complaining, bragging or being ungrateful is having a bad attitude. Hence, bring your obedience to God’s words.

2 Cor 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  1. Put of the old and be made new in the attitude of your minds

Ephesians 4:22

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

  1. Cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving and praises. If times are tough and you can’t go through it, think of one thing you can thank God for.

1 Thess 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

  1. Think of what is right

Phil 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

  1. Adopt a Christ-like attitude

Lovely usherers at the entrance of Glad Tidings auditorium

Phil 2:5

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:


When Julie entered Bible school, she had a tough time having a bad report and impression by the people in the school. “I felt sad. I left everything to follow Jesus,” said Julie. But after one year she was at Bible school, a friend came to tell Julie that she was not what they said because her attitude mirrored the truth. Let us show Christ in us!




Gal 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


As the cartoon Peanuts show, attitude is contagious, is your’s worth catching? Are you spreading positive or negative attitudes?

In closing, Julie said, “life is full of hurdles, mountains, ups and downs. But through this, if you can’t change the circumstances, then change your attitude. We can change our attitude.”




For more information on Glad Tidings, please visit



Pictures were adapted from



  1. Attitude checked…. Very good material, Pjk! Yes… It’s Ok to have self confidence but if that self confidence becomes self righteousness, not Ok! Very good reminder.

  2. It is so true…if you can’t change the circumstances, then change your attitude!

    The 1st thing that I choose to change is to "clothe myself with humility WILLINGLY daily.

    <change> <humility>



  3. Yeap. Making a daily… and at times hourly choice of having a good attitude. Let it begin within. Let it begin with me! 😀

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