You are the God who sees me. Genesis 16:13 NIV
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Luke 18:13
Our verse from Genesis comes from the story of Hagar, as she is pregnant with Abram’s son, and there is tension between her and Sarai (even though Sarai told Abram to have a son through Hagar.) Apparently Hagar has been despising Sarai, as she has become pregnant, and Sarai hasn’t. Hagar flees and meets an angel near a spring in the desert. The angel tells her to return home, that she will have a son, that she will name him Ishmael because “the Lord has heard of her misery.” [Ishmael means “God hears.”] Hagar has not prayed to God for help, all the account in Genesis says is that she ran away. Just sitting there by the spring when an angel appears and tells her God has heard her. Then Hagar gives a name to the Lord who spoke to her in the words of our verse, “the Living One who sees me.”. She knows that God sees her, hears her, pays attention to her – one who is a maidservant, not important at all in the eyes of the world. She is humbled to have seen God and to have Him see her.
Luke 18:9 says that Jesus is speaking to some who were sure of their own righteousness and looked down on others. In the parable, Jesus tells of two people praying in the temple. One is praying loudly about how great he is and how he has followed all the rules. Wow! A perfect person! Then we see the other person, the despised tax collector, who prays quietly without even looking up. He stands at a distance from others and asks God for mercy. No list of all his good deeds, no mention of wonderful things he has done, but rather a plea for mercy. He knows that only God can forgive him, and that no number of good works can do that. He knows that God sees all the things he has done and thought, and he humbles himself before God.
We too know that God sees everything we do and say and think. We all have things we do or say that we don’t want anyone to know about, but God does know, He sees us. Yet He stands ready to forgive and forget all the sins we commit when we come to Him humbly, seeking the forgiveness that only He can give.
Lord God you see right through our self-righteousness. We cannot hide any secrets from you. We are every one of us like the tax collector, sinners in need of your grace. We humbly confess our sins to you and seek your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.