Last month as I was teaching my first grade Sunday School class
we were talking about the life of Jesus, and those nasty Pharisees
kept coming up- in those stories the "bad guys" are always the
Pharisees, it's not the murderers or the prostitutes or the cheaters,
it's the Pharisees. But you know, back then the Pharisees were
the guys that looked like they had it all together. They were the
ones everybody thought were the "good guys". They followed
all the rules, they were clean, they were always praying on the
street corners, wearing all the right clothes, these guys looked good!
But these guys had some serious problems, and if we aren't
careful, those same problems can trip us up as well. So for
myself, I thought, what were their problems and how can I
avoid them? Here are a few thoughts~
1. The Pharisees spent so much time carefully observing all their traditions that they missed the working of the Holy Spirit. Yeah, we have lots of traditions in our churches today, some more than others, but we all have ideas of the way things should be, just because that's how we've always done them. But is that the right way to do things? I believe we miss a lot of the Holy Spirit's prompting because we are just too busy doing what we've always done.
2. The Pharisees loved praise from men more than praise from God. John says that many of the leaders among the Pharisees secretly believed in Jesus, but they never spoke up because they didn't want the other Pharisees to look down on them. Are we willing to speak up for what's right, even if it's not the most popular position?
3. The Pharisees made sure the outside of their life looked good without too much concern for the inside. Jesus criticized the Pharisees big time for this one, even calling them white-washed tombs! What do I put more effort into- making sure we all look good for church on Sunday, or making sure our hearts are ready to hear what God wants to say to us in church? Ouch.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees,
You clean the outside of the cup and dish,
but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
First clean the inside of the cup and dish,
and then the outside also will be clean.