I am a control freak that is trying to change. Can you relate to this? I love events and parties, and if I am the person who is in charge of the event, then I want it to be perfect. I feel like “my stamp” is on the event, and I want it to be outstanding. The event doesn’t have to be anything huge; it could be something simple like throwing a dinner party or decorating the house for Christmas. I will find myself going behind others and moving things by inches to the “perfect” spot. I am laughing as I type this message because I realize how silly that is. We all want the same thing, and the outcome will still be beautiful and perfect. My standards aren’t necessarily the right ones; they are just what I have come to know as right. The decorating rules that I was going by were my own, not some that I had seen in magazines. But, I was still trying to enforce my version of what was right on anyone who was helping me.
When I was watching The Chosen last week, (You can read about that here), I started feeling sorry for the Pharisees. I don’t think that as a whole they were evil people. Instead, I believe that they were so caught up in enforcing “THE RULES” that they couldn’t give an inch. They saw everything as black or white, and there was no in-between. I am sure that they thought that they were doing what was right, but that doesn’t mean that it was.
In Matthew 23 you can feel the contempt in the words written.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
In this passage, you see Jesus telling the crowd to do what the Pharisees say, but not what they do. The problem with the Pharisees wasn’t the rules they were spouting, it was the superiority and arrogance that they were feeling. They were busy enforcing the laws, but their hearts were ugly on the inside.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.
Jesus said some very harsh words against the men who were “supposed” to be enforcing the Law of Moses. You would have thought, and I am sure that THEY thought they would have been the chosen people of the Lord. Instead, Jesus chose the very people that the Pharisees looked down on.
I think that the Pharisees offer us a very valuable lesson. We should never look down our noses at others, nor judge their outward appearances. The Pharisees were perfect on the outside but were imperfect on the inside, where it mattered.
My wanting things to be perfect should never take away from the spirit behind the event which is to love people well. The Pharisees knew the law, but not the Spirit behind it. So, instead of judging someones decorating abilities, writing style, singing voice, bank account, work, or anything else, maybe we should show some grace and look inward instead
Have A Blessed Day!