Yea…the blog-title says it all.
And no, Pharisee is not a fancy modern-day title, or something prestigious
Quite the opposite. Its a shameful title if any of you know who I’m referring to.
For those of you who do not know where I may be going with this, or what a Pharisee is, let me give you a (VERY) brief description. Well, back in the time of Jesus, there were these religious leaders known as the Pharisees. They were in charge of keeping God’s holy law, and making sure others did as well. They were separated from the rest though by keeping the law to the letter, and living a pure and holy life that not many could commit to.
They seem like the good guys right?
NOPE. At least not by the time Jesus came around.
There is a whole lot more that goes into that, but my blog is not to give you history on the Pharisee’s. Lol. You can look that up yourself.
What I WILL tell you in addition to that summary though is that by the time Jesus showed up, the Pharisees had become corupt. How? They had dove into the temptation that surrounds ANY religious leaders: self-righteousness.
So when Jesus comes along, and tends to do things that (SEEM TO) contradict the law, or challenge them on their philosophy and approach to the law, they saw Him as a low life, a cheat, a liar, a blasphemer, and someone who was to be silenced as he posed as a threat to everything they had devoted their long lives to.
Jesus is famous in the Bible for His relationship to the Pharisees. He does not hesitate to call them out, especially in front of those who might respect them or would be considered ‘beneath’ their laws and religious lifestyles.
In fact, there are several passages in the Gospels that have been collectively known as the “Woes of the Pharisees”. They are the strong, blunt warnings that Jesus gives them about what condition their hearts are in, and how they have failed God in every way despite the fact they work so hard to keep His law.
As a side note, I find it interesting that though Jesus is known as this loving guy who was gentle, sweet, and unconditionally full of a peaceful (which is ALL TRUE), He still used what many find hard harsh and unethical today: TOUGH LOVE. And He used it on those who many would think would be the last people He would use it on: the religious guys who were trying harder than was humanly possible to keep Jesus’ Father’s Law. Perhaps we can take a cue from this? Perhaps the hard-headed religious leaders of our day need a bit of what Jesus used in such circumstances: tough love?
Anyways, not my point. Lol. What my point is is this: God has been convicting me ALOT lately about how I am in a point in my life where I am very much a Pharisee. I am FULL of self-righteousness, even though I know intellectually that I am a sinner and break God’s law everyday. I am totally aware of that. Yet, when I’m around others who I consider to be doing ‘worse’ sins than I, I act as if I am not so lowly as them, or that I am morally better than them.
Having meditated on this for several days now, I have come to some conclusions about myself. First off, God has wired me already personality wise to always be striving to upkeep order and the rules. I never break the rules, and if I DO, I always feel justified by some other rule being upheld. Second, I was brought up in a household where I was taught manners, ethics, and morals straight from the Bible and from common sense. Third, I am passionate about my Lord, and I tend to see Him as my King a whole lot more often than I do as my Lover, despite the fact He’s both.
Now, these in my opinion are all great things. They make up who I am. However, as with all strengths, they can become my greatest weaknesses. If I concentrate on the Law too often, I expect others to do the same…something that is NOT my job to keep track of. And because I often see Jesus as my King (which He IS), but forget that He is also my Lover, my Savior, and the One who had to come and forgive me of my dreadful and disgusting sins, and wash them away so I wouldn’t have to bare this shame, then I tend to see everything as a duty, and expect others to do the same.
Now, again, don’t get me wrong. I like keeping God’s Laws. For me, it is simply my expression of love and gratitude to my Savior for all He is done for me. I mean, come on, He came and DIED FOR ME. The least I can do in my joy is follow some rules He put up that are there to help me in life, and keep from evil and stuff that would hurt me. BUT, I have to be careful. For those that are like me, and are rule-keepers, self-righteous creeps ever so nearby, in the shadows of our passion for justice and purity in the world.
So here are “Woes” that Jesus gave the Pharisees, taken from an article on the topic on Wikipedia:
The seven woes of hypocrisy are:
- They taught about God but did not love God — they did not enter thekingdom of heaventhemselves, nor did they let others enter. (Matt 23:13-14 )
- They preached God but converted people to dead religion, thus making thoseconvertstwice as much sons of hell as they themselves were. (Matt 23:15 )
- They taught that an oath sworn by the temple or altar was not binding, but that if sworn by the gold ornamentation of the temple, or by a sacrificial gift on the altar, itwasbinding. The gold and gifts, however, were not sacred in themselves as the temple and altar were, but derived a measure of lesser sacredness by being connected to the temple or altar. The teachers and Pharisees worshipped at the temple and offered sacrifices at the altar because they knew that the temple and altar were sacred. How then could they deny oath-binding value to what was truly sacred and accord it to objects of trivial and derived sacredness? (Mat 23:16-22 )
- They taught the law but did not practise some of the most important parts of the law — justice, mercy, faithfulness to God. They obeyed the minutiae of the law such as titheing spices but not the real meat of the law. (Matt 23:23-24 )
- They presented an appearance of being ‘clean’ (self-restrained, not involved in carnal matters), yet they were dirty inside: they seethed with hidden worldly desires, carnality. They were full ofgreed and self-indulgence. (Matt 23:25-26 )
- They exhibited themselves as righteous on account of being scrupulous keepers of the law, but were in fact not righteous: their mask of righteousness hid a secret inner world of ungodly thoughts and feelings. They were full of wickedness. They werelike whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones. (Matt 23:27-28 )
- They professed a high regard for the dead prophets of old, and claimed that they would never have persecuted and murdered prophets, when in fact they were cut from the same cloth as the persecutors and murderers: they too had murderous blood in their veins. (Matt 23:29-36 )
Now, these are obviously extremes, some of which do not apply to my current state of heart. Like, I am a pretty good guy. I DO care about others, and I am sweet and kind. I’ve learned from Jesus throughout my years so far how through Him, I can be a decent guy. :) But what I’m trying to say in this post is that I have realized a major weakness of mine, and He is addressing it now.
I think that God gives us all different gifts and different passions. For some of us in the church, we do indeed have a great calling to make sure justice is upheld. Sin is sin, and it must be addressed and countered. I feel like this is a position God has called me to. I yearn for purity and absence of sin in the world. BUT, I must also remember God’s grace towards those who are not yet saved and do not know of His love. If I approach them with the heart of justice all the time, it will be hard for them to even consider God’s love.
So fellow brothers and sisters, pray for me. Perhaps some of you struggle with this as well. Or maybe you know people who do, and you know how annoying they can be. But just remember its cause we’re human, we’re flawed, and instead of being tempted to living a life of sin in the name of God’s grace like some are tempted with, some of us are tempted to become dead on the inside rather than the out, and to appear righteous and uphold laws but forget of God’s mercy and the fact we are in need of a Savior and someone to cleanse us of our sin just as much as the next guy.