Happy Monday to you all! I am trusting and believing you all had a great weekend and are ready to take on another week.
Last week I began my study on the Pharisees and I hope to have it finished by this Wednesday, but you know what happens when I have a plan..hehee..
Last week we learned that the Pharisees were not condemned by God because of their strict following of the law. No, the Pharisees were condemned and rebuked for their additions to the law, partial obedience, their own self-righteous system for salvation, and for simply refusing to recognize their own sins. Today we will look at how the Pharisees’ pride contributed to their down fall as they began to see themselves as the epitome of righteousness and superior to all.
First, I want to take you back to the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector found in Luke 18:
Luke 18:10-11 (NKJ): 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.”
Now, the Pharisee did not point out these other men in order for God to help them. No, he pointed them out to show God that he was superior to all these other men. Now, let’s face it; we have these types of people in our church today. Some of us may have acted this way ourselves (big gulp). I am not trying to be funny, but rather real honest. I call it the “policeman/whistleblower mentality”:
1. Policeman-a person who keeps a watchful eye on the whole congregation (or a select few that this person has deemed untrustworthy or has the potential of overthrowing them as top dog) and keeps a tally of their wrongdoings or sins. This policeman will do one of two things: 1) confront this person, usually in front of others, and point out the “sinners” errors or 2) they will keep track of the person’s sins in their little “notebook” to use once they gather enough evidence to prove the “sinner” to be less than. This “policeman” doesn’t do this to help the “sinner”, but rather so that he or she (or someone close to him or her) can appear to be superior or more spiritual than everyone else.
2. Whistleblower-a person who is quick to share the faults of “sinners” with others. Worse yet, they run to the Pastor or other people in place of leadership with their list of grievances.
Let me just say, I am guilty of both. I have done both more times than I probably recognized. God smacked me in the face with this conviction. You see, I never saw what I was doing as a bad thing because I only did it to those I believed deserved it; those who thought they were better than me and my friends; those I deemed Pharisees. Ever hear the saying, “two wrongs don’t make a right?”
Pride is one of the most dangerous tools in Satan’s tool box. Why? Well, because it is a sneaky little sin as it is hard to see sometimes. Have you ever been frustrated with those who don’t know as much as you or just don’t seem to get it? Have you ever bragged about how wonderful your church is or what your church is doing? Have you ever used a God-given platform, such as a bible study, to show off your knowledge? Are you a part of a “core group” or other exclusive group at your church? Yep, pride can indeed be very, very sneaky.
We have been taught to have self-confidence, especially in today’s society where schools are working hard to build up self-esteem, so we often don’t recognize pride for what it really is. The difference between self-confidence or self-esteem is that pride is in excess. Pride comes into play when we think more of ourselves than we ought.
Pride is often at the center of division and strife in our churches. I go to a church with a good mixture of young and old and you know what I have found? The older women are just as “clickish” as the younger women and kids. I would venture to say that the men are no different from the women. It is as if high school never ends!
I say all this so that you will not underestimated the damages pride can have on a person and a church. Remember, it was pride that nailed Jesus to the cross. Say what? Yep, it is my belief that pride was the reason the Pharisees killed Jesus. You see, the Pharisees began to grow jealous of Jesus because “their people” started following him. They began to revere Jesus and not them. Jesus’ teachings went against everything they believed and he was not shy about calling out the Pharisees. Furthermore, it was their pride that caused them not to be able to see their own sin and see that they too needed Jesus. I don’t think it can get any more dangerous than that.
Okay, sidetrack over (I hope).
The Pharisees’ belief that they were superior than others caused them to despise all others that were not at their level of spirituality:
Luke 18:9 (NLT): Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else.
Not only did they despise those who were not on their level, they would not even eat or drink with them; however, it is apparent that Jesus’ heart was for the sinners (Luke 5:31-32).
Jesus used many parables to show just how important the lost where to him and his father.
The Lost Sheep
Luke 15:1-7 (NLT): Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
A few years ago, when I was struggling and making some bad decisions, I noticed my pastor (former pastor) was noticeably silent. Later, I went to him and asked if had seen me struggling and if he did, why didn’t he try to help? His exact words were, “I don’t reward bad behavior.” Needless to say I was dumbfounded and, to tell you the truth, I still am. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this man greatly and I know without a doubt he meant no harm with that statement, but I believe he was wrong. His thought was that I was like a teenager looking for attention anyway I could get it and he wasn’t about to feed that monster. I honestly get where he was coming from, I, however, was drowning and was desperately looking for someone to throw me a rope. I wish I would have been able to show him this scripture so maybe, just maybe, he could see just how wrong he was.
The Lost Coin
Luke 15:8-10 (NLT): “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
The Prodigal Son
Luke 15:11-32 (NLT): To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on.27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him,29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
This just may be the most know parable of Jesus Christ. This story has been on my heart for the last few months. Why? Because I have been feeling like the “other son”. I have been feeling like my works, my service, my faithfulness is going unnoticed while others seem to be getting all the glory. I had even thought of doing a blog post on this particular study, but God took care of it with this one. You see, I didn’t realize that the other son was the Pharisee in this study. Yes, I knew he was considered the “bad one”, but I honestly felt his anger was a little justified. After all, he did what he was supposed to do, and how was he blessed? His ungrateful brother, who had already gotten more than his fair share of the family assets, was about to get even more, probably at the expense of the other brother! How unfair! I know a lot of others feel the same why I do, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t make us right.
Tomorrow, we will discuss how and why this made me and the other brother a Pharisee and how pride and hypocrisy go hand in hand. Until then, stay safe and God bless,