Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3545

Jump Start # 3545

Matthew 23:24 “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”

  There is something oddly unique among those who love the truth of God’s word and have a conservative bent to their thinking. Our concern for all things Biblical and right easily folds into being a Pharisee, which most would despise.

  Our verse today comes from that powerful Matthew chapter where the Lord unloads on the Pharisees for their double standards, their heartless treatment of others and their faithless worship of God. Going all the way back to the Sermon on Mount, it was the Pharisees who loved long prayers on the street corners, gloomy faces when they fasted and broadcasting the good things that they were doing.

  The Pharisees were the most conservative group of the Jews. Out of them came Nicodemus and the apostle Paul. They were serious about God’s law, as well as their traditions. They had no trouble breaking one law to expose another person breaking the law. Inconsistent well describes the Pharisees.

  And, as much as we read these passages about how the Pharisees tested Jesus, doubted Jesus and ridiculed Jesus, we have a hard time believing that we could well be among them in our own little world. The Pharisees were quick to judge and very reluctant to extend grace. And, while we can see this in them, we may have trouble seeing that in us.

  Here are some thoughts for us:

  First, we have been among believers for so long, we have forgotten what it is to be on the outside of Christ. That can lead to having little patience with those who do not see things as I see them. I’ve been seeing these things for a long time. It’s so obvious to me. It’s so simple. Yet, when others hesitate, pause, and even questions, we can dismiss them as not being interested or even label them as worldly.

  Second, being quick to point out the sins and mistakes of others doesn’t make us stand any taller. Immodesty, crude language, drinking, selfishness are just surface evidence of hearts that do not know Jesus. We can immediately point fingers at all the things that others are doing that are wrong, but the real issue is hearts that need to know Jesus. John 8 begins with Jesus teaching early in the morning in the temple. But for a woman, the day began in the sexual act of adultery. It was the Pharisees that were quick to pick up rocks in judgment. Jesus stopped all that. Yet, you and I can hold rocks in our hands. The rocks of threats of withdrawal. The rocks of exclusion. The rocks of rejection.

  In Samaria, Jesus met a woman at the well who had been through so many marriages. Currently, she was living with someone that she wasn’t married to. That person is the person you work with. It’s our neighbor. It’s a family member. Poor choices. Mistakes upon mistakes. Married so many times that some couldn’t keep any of the names straight. Yet, Jesus didn’t roll His eyes at her. He didn’t ignore her. He held a substantial conversation and offered her hope. She left telling others about Jesus.

  Third, it’s hard to drive the little Pharisee out of our hearts. We justify our attitudes and words as only standing for the truth. Yet our treatment of others is far from what Jesus would do. This is something we must work at. We get there when we remember where we came from and what a mess we’ve made of things. Goodness is not found in us, but in the Lord. The spirit of the Pharisees is just a few steps away from being self-righteous, better than others.

  Matthew five ends with a series of questions:

· For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? (5:46)

· Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (5:46)

· If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? (5:47)

· Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (5:47)

  Do I only gravitate towards those who are like me? How do I demonstrate that I love my enemy?

  That little Pharisee in so many of us pops up when someone suggests something different. Without thinking it out, reasoning through Scriptures, we are quick to shoot that idea out of the sky because it’s not what we do. It pops up when someone new walks into the Sunday worship. The questions begin. We give them a good looking over to determine whether or not they are acceptable. As every funeral begins, we’ve already made up our minds whether the deceased is in Heaven or not.

  Oh, that little Pharisee. Let him not find a home in your heart. He’s not welcome because he is not like Jesus.