Luke 18:9-14 NIV (New International Version)
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
The Parable of the Phari-Sing and the Probably-Can
(Loosely based on) Luke 18:9-14 and I Corinthians 13:1
To some who were confident of their own artistic pedigree and overall superiority in all things artsy-fartsy and who looked down on everybody else, a parable was told: “Two men went up to the temple to sing, one an arrogant musician and the other a simple mirth-maker. The Phari-sing stood up and prayed about himself:
'God (actually GAWD), I thank thee that I am not like other people—you know, the little people, the “no-counts,” the ones I must endure sitting next to in choir—those of untrained ear, those whose vowels bespeak a dialect formed in southern Georgia or, perhaps, Arkansas; men and women who mistake a Coda for a common illness and a crescendo for a large butter roll; those of squeaky voice, shallow air supply and ill-placed diphthongs—or even like this lowly choir wannabe, who sings through the repeat signs and believes fine is an editorial comment on his performance thus far.
Unlike him, I attend every rehearsal (including the monthly fellowship meals), arrive having vocalized in my car for the twenty minute drive to church, then carefully arrange my music in its proper order, scan any new music or worship materials for repeats, alternate endings, editor’s comments or anything else which might give me a “leg up” when the actual rehearsal begins. I remain properly hydrated throughout the entire rehearsal or worship service, keep my sharpened number two pencil at the ready and vigorously mark my score as directed by the conductor, making sure to press lightly in the unlikely, but occasional, event of his changing his mind.
I stay seated in an “upright and locked position” throughout the duration of the rehearsal (even, and most importantly, during the ritualistic prayer time so as to leave no doubt as to just how upright and Godly I am); I never forget my music and encourage others to do the same. I do this by refusing to share my score with them or, God forbid, my plethora of musical knowledge. As we enter the sanctuary prior to the Sunday service, I always make sure to place my offering in one of the little boxes located in the lobby. Inside my clearly marked envelope is a check for at least a tenth of all I get (gross, not net).’
But the lowly Probably-Can sat slumped in his chair at a distance. He did not have proper singing posture. He had no water bottle, and had left some of his music in his car. What music he had remembered to bring had coffee stains on it and pages stuck together from an encounter with a jelly donut he was eating in the car on the way to practice.
He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'It’s me again, God, HELP! I admit it, Lord, I love to sing and I love to worship, but after all these years I still don’t know the difference between a descant and a dischord, D. S. al fine or day-old linguine. I am tired and don’t bring much to this choir, but what I have, I give to you. With enough patience and a supportive, safe environment, I’d like to hang in there and try to make a difference in some small way. With Your help, I probably can encourage someone else. Please use me.'
I tell you that the prayer of the simple Probably-Can was like music to God’s ears, while the ramblings of the Phari-Sing were like fingernails on a chalkboard—audible but not very edifying. The moral of the story: "Though I [sing] with the tongue of men and of angels, but have not love, I am like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."