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  • Writer's pictureJubilee Lipsey

The Pharisee in Me

If you know, you know.

Even if you haven’t been following the heightened tension of the latest Chosen episodes, you likely get a bad taste in your mouth when thinking about the religious leaders who opposed Jesus and ultimately condemned Him during His work on Earth. It’s so easy to get angry at them, assuming we would have been more open-minded if we’d been around at that time. But the longer I live walking out my faith and the more I experience my own struggles and desires wrestling with God’s will—the more I realize I have more to learn from the Pharisees before I sit back and criticize them. I daresay WE ALL do.

I recently took a good look at some of the major issues that plagued the Pharisees—and found so many of them in my own heart. Any of this feel familiar to you?

“If you are the Christ, tell us plainly,” (John 10:24, 14:11).

The Pharisees demanded that Jesus answer for every move He made, but they were refusing to see what the moves themselves prophesied. When God reveals an aspect of His plan to us, we mistakenly think that He owes us an explanation or that we have to come up with a human solution for what He should do next—and that is false. We don’t get to demand pre-approval, and insisting on it often clouds our view of what God is doing. When we remember that He is sovereign and remain committed to walking out His will, whatever it looks like, we will avoid a lot of pitfalls.

“You blind guides,” (Matthew 23:23).

The Pharisees were so used to their own interpretation of the Messiah’s arrival, they assumed that they would simply know and accept it if they saw it. Meanwhile, their burdensome traditions were actually making it harder for people to walk with God, and they were missing the heart of God in the Law! If your fixation on a particular move of God that you want to see is causing you to neglect His commandments everywhere else in your life, you’re off track. God is looking for faithfulness that demonstrates trust through daily obedience, even if you’re not seeing what you want to see yet.

“Immediately seeking counsel on how to put Jesus to death,” (Mark 3:6).

The Pharisees were notorious for silencing, demonizing, and attacking anything they didn’t want to be true. But that isn’t the heart of someone who wants to guard the real Truth. If we seek God for the Truth regardless of how it disrupts things or makes us feel, He will protect us from error. If some revelation of God triggers a temper tantrum in any of us, we would do well to find out what the real issue is at the heart of the matter. Real truth-seekers aren’t jealous, controlling, or hateful.

“If you believed Moses, you’d believe Me,” (John 5:46).

The Pharisees habitually regurgitated the words of Moses, David, and the prophets without remembering how opposed these faith leaders were in their day. It’s very easy for us to become comfortable with a certain level of God’s power and expect Him to go no further than that. But assuming that God will only act the same way over and over again is arrogant because we’re basically telling Him He can’t go beyond what we’re okay with. Are we truly ready to see God move, or are we waiting for Him to repeat the past?

“If He goes on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and Rome will come and take away all we have,” (John 11:46-50).

The Pharisees were afraid of disrupting the status quo and losing their precarious position to their Roman occupiers. Where are we willing to sacrifice the pursuit of God’s ultimate best for a certain level of complacent comfort? To whatever degree we’re doing that, we have sold out to the enemy and forgotten who and whose we are.

All of this does not mean that we cast off religious establishment and buck stereotypes just for the heck it. God isn’t giving out points for that.

What God is looking for is the heart of someone like David dancing before the Lord in common clothes on the day he was crowned king (2 Samuel 6:14). Or Mary of Bethany pouring out an expensive alabaster jar of perfume over Jesus’ feet, utterly overcome by His worthiness (Matthew 26:6-13).

They simply offered up their whole beings in response to the revelation of who God was. They didn’t fully understand every aspect of His mind and plan, but they were moved to pour themselves out in worship to God for what He had revealed rather than allowing their questions and struggles to sour into doubt and offense. David’s wife Michal and the traitor disciple Judas did the latter—and their own offense destroyed them (2 Samuel 6:23, Matthew 27:1-10). But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed but of those who have faith and preserve their souls (Hebrews 10:39).

David and Mary were honored in God’s eyes and in history. And we will be too if we pour ourselves out in response to God and then get to work doing what He’s told us to do, trusting that He will reveal the next step when it’s time.

His ways are not our ways, but He has revealed so much by His Spirit (Isaiah 55:8-9, 1 Cor. 2:9-10). Don’t let fear hold you back. Dare to open up every single little corner of your heart and let God have His way.

Yes, even there. With that one thing you’re not sure you can trust Him to handle. That one thing you can’t handle. The thing that triggers anger or makes you crazy with pain.

Give it to Him. It’s worth it.

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