Have you ever disliked something about someone, only to find out that the reason you don’t like that characteristic is because you see it in yourself? As a mother I often found myself so frustrated with my children because they were so impatient and stubborn. Uh, hello! If you know me, those are the two big areas in my life that I constantly have to hand over to the Father to mold and shape!!! Well, for the next few days, we will be reading about the Pharisees.
Pharisees. Spiritual Pharisees. We don’t like them. And yet, we often see ourselves in them. Always questioning. Always wanting proof. Consider themselves more spiritual than others. Cocky. Ego-driven. Performance. Showy. Yet, Jesus was the total opposite. While the Pharisee considers himself righteous in practice that made him righteous in position, Jesus taught us to humbly consider ourselves righteous in position only by the grace and mercy of God, which makes us desire that our practice matches that position, so as to honor God with our lives.
The Pharisees questioned Jesus about what Law was most important. That word in the Greek is “protos“. It is where we get the word “priority“. So they ask Jesus of all the Law , what is priority. Jesus answers with one word: Love. Love God. Love People. Jesus declared to them that relationships are more important than anything else.
KINGDOM LIVING MAKES LOVING GOD AND OTHERS PRIORITY
Jesus turns the table and decides to ask the Pharisees a question: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” When they answer that he is the son of David, Jesus asks how that could be possible when David called him “Lord“. The Pharisees have no rebuttal, and from that day on didn’t ask Him any more questions. Jesus lovingly shut them up, because there is no place for spiritual piousness and pride in the Kingdom.
Then, Jesus addresses the crowd and His disciples to open their eyes to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, as a warning not to allow their own lives to be poisoned.
Jesus described the Pharisees as ones who 1) don’t practice what they preach, 2) think they are too good to serve, 3) do everything for approval of man, and 4) promote their position.
I have a dear friend who told me a story about her children’s minister. She was getting ready for an event for the children at her church, when she had a long, heavy table that she needed to move. As she grabbed one end of the table, she looked at her Executive Pastor and said, “Hey, will you please grab the other end and help me move this for tonight?” The Executive Pastor responded, “I don’t move tables.”
If we are going to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth as Jesus desired and even taught us to pray (“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”), then we must have a heart that is the antithesis of a Pharisee. We must learn to: 1) practice what we preach, 2) humble ourselves and serve, 3) do everything for approval of God, and 4) promote others over ourselves.
KINGDOM LIVING IS HUMBLE SERVANTHOOD
Holy Spirit, convict us of the times when we are behaving like a Pharisee. Eradicate it from our lives so that others see an authentic and genuine representation of Jesus through us. In Jesus’ name. Amen