Friday, February 5, 2010

Taming the inner Pharisee

Matt 23:23-28: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 "Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Hypocrites are people who say one thing and then do another.. Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and calling them hypocrites because of the rules that they required the people to follow, yet failed to follow themselves. Holding others to religious standards is somewhat acceptable. Jesus said you will know someone by his or her fruit, and that we are to discern spiritually in order to discover what level a person’s walk is at in order to minister to them. However, holding a person to a spiritual standard that you yourself are not willing to keep is a different story. These Pharisees would judge and condemn a person for not meeting a standard that they could not even live up to. Jesus spoke of them having “whitewashed” the parts the people see, while leaving their insides filthy.

The problem today is that Pharisees are still alive and well. These are not just the religious leaders, they are the person who judges what another does, and shakes their head in disgust, while, yet they themselves are not living the life they ought. Pharisees are so focused and determined to examine and analyze and criticize others that they have lost the skill to analyze themselves. It is good and right to speak out against sin; however, the Bible distinguishes against speaking out against sin and setting up roadblocks to salvation. These Pharisees were judging the people so harshly that they were literally preventing people from having a true repentance. They focused on tearing people down instead of building them up. Jesus called them blind guides for they were supposed to be the people’s shepherds, but instead they were leading them wrong.

For the Christ-follower it is good that we recognize sin and speak out against it. If our country is engaged in sinful and unbiblical actions I believe it is our duty, like good soldiers of Christ, to stand up and say this is wrong. However, when our critical examination is focused on others more then it is on ourselves then we are in danger of becoming Pharisees. A Pharisee looks at the behavior of others and shakes his or her head, and cries “SINNER”. A Christ-follower looks at his or her own behavior and cries out “SINNER”, God forgive me. A Christ-follower also looks at others in their sin and tells them, “Hey I have a cure for that disease; His name is Jesus”.

Tomorrows Readings:
Old Testament: Exod. 39-40 New Testament Matt 24:1-22

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