Tuesday, October 19

On Being a Pharisee

Posted by Andrea

Read Matthew 12

I don’t want to write about this topic very much. I have been thinking about it and resisting it for sometime now, but I think it’s time I admit the truth. I am a Pharisee. I’m recovering. This may be one of my twelve steps, I don’t know.

I didn’t have any idea about it until I read the book of Matthew a little while ago. I got to one of the passages where Jesus is dealing it out ever-so severely to the hypocrites. Generally when I get to those parts, I kind of like to cheer Jesus on. He says, “You brood of vipers!” and I say, “You tell ‘em, Jesus!”

Then one day as I was reading over the verses in Matthew—the book is full of one fight after another with the bad guys—I started to feel sorry for them. The Pharisees were a well intentioned bunch. They had grown up in and were thoroughly educated in the laws of God. They knew exactly what God required of them. All of a sudden, along comes this upstart, Jesus. He’s making all these radical claims about the kingdom of God and he is so. far. off. base! The religious leaders couldn’t let him get away with what they were convinced were lies.

Be set apart, they contended.

“It’s not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus said.

Honor the Sabbath, they insisted.

“It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath,” Jesus said.

In their minds, when they accused the Son of Man as working in the name of the devil when he cast out demons, it was because they really, truly thought he was. Never mind that the accusation was nonsense—as Jesus pointed out, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” There was something screwy about what the Nazarene was preaching and the Pharisees thought it was their duty to save the uneducated, common Jew from themselves by eliminating the threat that Jesus posed.

They were so busy trying to save the people, to point out Jesus’ shortcomings, that they succumbed to Sawdust and Plank Syndrome. “Why do you look at the sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?” (Matthew 7:3). The Message paraphrases “That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, “Let me wash your face for you,” when your own face is distorted with contempt?”

Pride is ugly and ultimately very damaging. Most of us have a problem with it somewhere, and what is more terrifying, some of us don’t even know it’s there! I know I didn’t until the Holy Spirit was kind enough to point it out to me with his “double edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).

In Beth Moore’s amazing book Praying God’s Word, she devotes an entire chapter to breaking the spiritual stronghold of pride. “If we don’t presently have an issue that is actively humbling us, we veer with disturbing velocity toward arrogance and self-righteousness.” She goes on to say, “Pride is not the opposite of low self-esteem… Pride is self absorption whether we are absorbed with how miserable we are or how wonderful we are.”

We have eyes, but we don’t see. We have ears, but we don’t hear. God made things simple so we would have to get over our puffed up intellect to understand him.

I’m going to close here with a few words from Pride.

My name is Pride. I am a cheater
I cheat you of your God-given destiny… because you demand your own way.

I cheat you of contentment… because you “deserve better than this.”

I cheat you of knowledge… because you already know it all.

I cheat you of healing… because you are to full of me to forgive.

I cheat you of holiness… because you refuse to admit when you’re wrong.

I cheat you of vision… because you would rather look in the mirror than out a window.

I cheat you of genuine friendship… because nobody’s going to know the real you.

I cheat you of love… because real romance demands sacrifice.

I cheat you of greatness in heaven… because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.

I cheat you of God’s glory… because I convince you to seek your own.

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.

You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you. Untrue.

I’m looking to make a fool out of you.

God has so much for you, I admit it, but don’t worry…

If you stick with me

You’ll never know.

From Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore

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