Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In Other Words--Who am I Impressing?

It is so easy to be the Pharisee, isn't it? Oh I know that we don't intend to be the Pharisee, we intend to be "spiritual," but we end up being Pharisees. But that is what makes us Pharisees--being spiritual at the expense of others and the expense of the gospel.

The Pharisees wanted to keep the law as God commanded. So they made all kinds of rules to help them keep it. And they made it near impossible for anyone to want to come to God, because they made it so hard. I, too, want to obey God. And so the tendency is to become legalistic. Other Pharisees around me may be impressed and will cheer me on, but the lost--they will think that my brand of religion is just too "hard" and walk away. Am I impressing the self-righteous or gently impressing the need for obedience in the hearts of those who are being drawn to obey?

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." Matthew 23:23-24

Then there is prayer. The Pharisee wanted his prayer to be heard as important, impressive, and to show others how to pray. But all God heard was self-inflated words. It wasn't a prayer from the heart. And I do the same thing. I use the "church words" when I pray (especially aloud in a group) and sometimes forget the heart words that God so wants to hear. And if the lost were listening to my prayer, would they hear a deep cry of concern for them from my heart or theological dribble that means nothing to them. Am I impressing the haughty or impressing God's desires onto the hearts of the lost?

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Matthew 6:5-8

And service. The Pharisees would never get their hands dirty to help someone in need. It would make them "unclean" and besides, what would their friends think? But the lost need us to get dirty and to meet them in the filth of sin that is their world (and was once ours). I need to not be afraid of reaching out, of touching, of helping those who need help. But like the Pharisee I sometimes wonder if anyone is watching and let the fear of what others would think hold me back. So I impress my Pharisaic friends with my clean hands and miss the opportunity to impress the lost heart with service.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Matthew 9:11-13

ugh. Yes it is easy to be a Pharisee. But when we impress the Pharisee we do little to further the kingdom of God.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces." Matthew 23:13

"You act more like a Christian by your influence on the lost, then the saved people you impress.” - Dr. Alvin Reid

Lord, help me act like a Christian today...amen.

Laurel Wreath is hosting In Other Words today. Pay her a visit and read what God is teaching others through Dr. Reid's quote.


Denise said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, enjoyed this.

eph2810 said...

I am so guilty of being a Pharisee in my walk with Him. You are right - we are concerned about who might see us with the ones who still don't know Christ as their Savior yet. We so often forget that someone else made their hands dirty first before we were saved. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this week's IOW quote.
Blessings on your day and always...

Amydeanne said...

sounds like we were thinking along the same lines! Very well written Mipa! Great verses to take the point home!

Terri said...

Enjoyed your post--thanks for sharing!

Especially Heather said...

Lord, help me act like a Christian today...amen.

Amen. Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading your take on this topic today!


my4blessings said...

It's so hard to not get caught up in the "culture" of being Christian. Excellent thoughts!

Taya said...

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful thoughts! I too am guilty of acting like a Pharisee and want to act more like Jesus!
Bless you!

Elisa said...

All I can say is AMEN! You've said the rest!


Wendel said...

Lord, help me act like a Christian today...amen.


Becky said...

"And if the lost were listening to my prayer, would they hear a deep cry of concern for them from my heart or theological dribble that means nothing to them." Wow. Excellent analogy to those of us struggling with being Christians while acting like Pharisees. Thanks for great insight.

Grafted Branch said...

Once again, I've missed a great quote! I love what you've searched your heart and expressed here with us, Mipa. I'm going to go read it again.

Tammy L said...

Good thoughts! Thanks for sharing. :)