If you gather a group of Christians together, especially so with pastors, and begin to talk about other groups who are not quit like you, you might hear the label "Pharisee" thrown out. Sometimes, you may say it about someone else. Sometimes, it may be said of you. Either way, I wonder how well we actually know and understand what it means to be a Pharisee?
If you take the time to read the conversation that Jesus had first with a large crowd, then narrowing down to the Pharisees and Scribes (The scribes were the teachers of the law who usually get left out when we tell this story!) from Matthew 23, you will notice seven signs, or characteristics, of a Pharisee.
Now, as you read the following seven posts on the Seven Signs You Might Be A Pharisee, please do me one favor: RESERVE YOUR JUDGMENT until the end. Your tendency may be to think ahead, but take the time to consider each sign and how it relates to you. And NO, I AM NOT TALKING PERSONALLY ABOUT YOU OR YOUR BELIEF SYSTEM. These are general statements taken from the words of Jesus Himself. My purpose is not to pick on you, your church, or your association/denomination/fellowship/non-fellowship fellowship (some of my readers will get that last one!).
After we see all seven signs, I think you may come to the same conclusion I have: I may not personally know someone who fulfills all seven signs, but if I am not careful, all of these attitudes have or could creep into my spiritual life.
So, without further ado, 7 Signs that you might be a Pharisee from Matthew 23:13-29.
Sign #1 - You are spiritually lost and preventing others from being saved - 23:13-14.
This is a pretty straight forward sign of a pharisee: you are lost and doing what you can to keep others from coming to a knowledge of saving faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus called this the "blind leading the blind." Easy enough. And of course, most who read my blog would not fall into this sign....or do we?
The pharisee's problem here was a two-fold one. Number One, they were religious, but lost. While we may not think this is an issue, truth be told there are many who spend much time in church but have never put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. If that is the case with you (and only you would know this), I invite you to go HERE and read more about what you should do next.
Now, assuming you are good with Number One, lets consider the Second problem the Pharisees had: they were keeping others from coming into a saving relationship with God. We often talk about how important it is to reach others for Jesus Christ, but are we effective at it in our church's? For many churches, one of the greatest tools for outreach that we have are our weekend services. Isn't this why we give people a chance to respond at the end of the service? And while we may be shocked, or disappointed, when no one does respond, do we ever stop to consider why?
Sometimes it is because we have done all that we are supposed to, but the hearer chose to ignore it, and/or they disagree with what God has told us in His Word. There is nothing that we can do about that. The response is between that individual and God.
But what might we be doing leading up to that point that is shutting the door on individuals who are genuinely seek a faith relationship and want to turn to God? Often times, new people have already made up their mind about a church and in turn God, well before the preacher ever stands to deliver the message. They base their choice on the cleanliness of a church, the friendliness of the people, the passion of the music program, the quality of childcare services, etc.
At this point, you may be thinking, "Well, none of that really matters. They should just be interested in the message. Those other things don't affect me, so they shouldn't affect them." And while that may sound right, the truth is we should be willing to do anything possible to prepare people to hear the Gospel. When we allow things around the church to falter and our attitudes to sour, it gives off the impression to outsiders that we don't care and it is no big deal.
But you do care, and you do think it is a big deal. If you didn't, you probably would have stopped reading a while back. So, while we may not be an actual Pharisee, we all must guard against allowing our personal preferences and likes, and even our complacency, to shut the doors of heaven to those who come into our churches looking.