Once when I was in seminary, I was setting around with a group of students complaining about some of the professors and their attack against contemporary churches. Well, a guy whom I really respected came over to the group while I was ranting and he made a comment about pharisee bashing and left. Ouch! It made me mad at first. Then after some time, I felt convicted. Now I am not so sure.
I know that I can always use more tact. (I've grown some in this area, but my wife has found a part time job elbowing my side, kicking me under the table, and standing behind the person I am talking to giving me the horizontal "finger across the throat sign" indicating that I might want to stop before I dig an even deeper hole.) But, I was reminded a couple of days ago that Jesus was the original pharisee basher. In my "reading through the Bible in year" I found myself in the book of Matthew chapters 21-23 a few days ago. When I finished reading I just said wow!
I few things I underlined:
- My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves.
- The parable of the two sons. Jesus points our that he would rather have a changed bad attitude than someone who says what he wants to hear but doesn't live it.
- The stone that the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this. Most religious leaders want a good reputation, not someone who has been rejected because they went against the status quo.
- "You hypocrites, why are your trying to trap me?
- The greatest commandment; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart ... soul ... mind ... and ... love your neighbor as yourself." Why do we always fail at one of these while trying to fulfill the other?
- Speaking of the pharisees . . . "don't do what they do, they don't practice what they preach."
- Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
- Woe to you teachers of the law and pharisee, you hypocrites.
- ... hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Ouch! (It really says that).
- ... hypocrites!
- you give a tenth ... but you have neglected the more important matters ... justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.
- ... hypocrites! 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 then the outside will be clean.
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
If you are there, get over yourself. If you are not, watch out. If you are pointing it out, you might be a hypocrite. I have a little of all of these. What I am doing and my advice to others is to find someone who is not naive to the problems but always takes the high road, someone who loves God with all of their being and loves and serves people too. Watch them, learn from them, give them permission to speak into your life, and then listen.