I didn’t realize that “pharisaicalism” is not a word until typing this. We look down on the Pharisees due to a tendency among them to bind things on people above and beyond what God required yet often their hearts were not as mature as their actions. In fact, their hearts may well have been less mature and less close to God than those they condemned. There were some decent Pharisees in Judaism and we tend to broad brush the whole group in a negative way.
While Pharisaism is easily recognized among others it is often not as easily recognized in one’s own attitude. It is important to have a high moral standard. Once you have gone the extra mile it is hard to understand why others don’t. There are two challenges.
- To have actions and attitude that are equally mature. If our actions outgrow our hearts we have a problem. We should challenge our hearts with greater actions but if our hearts never catch up then we have a problem.
- To have a high moral standard but not to expect the extras on everyone else or to look down on those who are not as mature first and foremost in their attitude and second in their actions. It is ironic that we do extra to be mature but then we act immature in how we see those who don’t do all we do.
When you see Pharisaism in others it is easy to see how destructive it can be. When you live pharisaically, it is much harder to detect in your own life because you feel justified in your thoughts and actions. How can you tell when you are becoming pharisaical? Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Are you more concerned about how people perceive you than how God perceives you?
- Would you be more worried that someone finds out that you sinned or by the fact that you sinned and what that does to your relationship with God?
- Do you believe it is okay to harbor negative attitudes against people as long as you treat them well?
- Have you ever looked down on someone else’s walk with God because, although they were trying, they still hadn’t caught up with your maturity?
- Do you feel that your spiritual walk is the standard by which others should match up?
Let our hearts and actions line up and let us be as patient with others as God has been with us!
“Do you believe it is okay to harbor negative attitudes against people as long as you treat them well?”
Well, you got me on this one Matt. There is an issue with a woman at work. She was a close friend, but I have been drawn away from her, the closer I get to God. God has given me the strength to be kind to her, but how do I practice not having any negative feelings inside?
Update. That question (in the last comment) was answered today. All I had to do was ask God, and of course he revealed to me what I needed to do!