Fifth, if you don’t want to be like the Pharisees, be prepared to respond to a rebuke. In Mat 15:12-14 Jesus is confronted by a concerned delegation of disciples, who are worried that Jesus has offended the Pharisees.
Jesus response is “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
The tragedy is that the Pharisees had the opportunity to repent, but were unwilling to do so and had become hardened in their thinking.
Here again is a moment for self evaluation. How willing am I to take correction from others? How correctable am I? How do I respond to a right rebuke? Is my response characterized by self justification or contrition and repentance?
Finally, if you don’t want to be like the Pharisees, don’t major on the minor and neglect the major. In Mat 23:23 Jesus says “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
It’s not that God doesn’t care about the small things, if you read on in the passage you will see that he does, it’s that God really is concerned about big things like justice and mercy and faithfulness.
Here is a final moment for self evaluation. How are you doing in the whole area of justice, mercy, faithfulness?
In conclusion, the Pharisees warn us of the spiritual perils that so easily ensnare those who would seek to glorify God. One of the great prayers of the Bible is found at the end of Psalm 139:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
What a great prayer to pray, seeking God’s help to keep walking in the everlasting way.
All scripture quotations in this series of articles are taken from the English Standard Version.