As a young person reading my Bible I assumed that Pharisees were awful people. Jesus seemed to be at loggerheads with them at all times and my assumption was that they were despicable.
As I have read my Bible over the years I realize I gave the Pharisees a harder wrap than I should have. I do believe they were devout people who tried their best. They did want to be good and do what was right. But that was precisely what the problem was—they focused entirely on their own efforts and their personal goodness and somewhere God was lost in all their religious paraphernalia.
Jesus constantly rebukes the Pharisees not because he despised them or because he rejected everything they did. No! Jesus loved the Pharisees and he longed to see them freed from their religious bondage to serve God with pure hearts. They tried to be good but they did not know what it was to be holy.
I started to look at the Pharisees and I hang my head in shame and confess that some of their sins were and are still also mine. I work every day to seek to dispel the Pharisaical tendencies in my own heart. Here is where I see the Pharisee in me!
1. They saw everyone's faults and flaws: Have you ever been like that? So busy looking at the failures of others that you don't see the weakness in your own life? I am trying to keep my focus on Jesus and ask Him to give me patience while He works in my life and in the lives of others. We have to remember everyone walks their own journey. I am equipped to run my race and others have a grace for the race they run.
2. They judged people who were not like them: They hated Gentiles, Samaritans and and anyone weak or disabled. If you were not like them you were cast out. Sometimes I have looked on others with judgment instead of compassion. Jesus was so loving and accepting of all. Look at the story in John 4 and you realize that Jesus was challenging all the major prevailing cultural assumptions of the day. Jesus, the rabbi spoke to a woman and this was strictly against the code of the religious Jew. She was also a Samaritan a despised racial group that any religious Jew avoided. Yet in one conversation with her Jesus challenges those prevailing cultural assumptions. He doesn't preach against them, he doesn't put up placards, no, He shows love. You see Jesus demonstrated His love by the way He lived and treated others.
3. They said one thing and did another: Jesus often challenged the Pharisees about their inconsistencies. Wow! How many times I have said one thing and done another. Or I have preached about love but my heart has struggled with forgiveness.
You know I could go on all day. Suffice it to say I recognize that there are elements of the Pharisee in my heart that must be dealt with. I want to love all people everywhere regardless of their color, creed, gender orientation or anything else for that matter. Jesus loved all people everywhere. I also want to live in a way that reveals the beautiful and magnificent Jesus who has been so patient and loving with me. I want to love like He does. I want to shine in a dark world and bring the hope of Jesus into desperate situations. I want to deal a death blow to the Pharisee in me that always seems to creep up at the most inopportune moments. I want Jesus to shine through my life so that others will see His beauty and be drawn to Him. That is my earnest prayer for this day.
I am and always will be,
recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,