Whenever I come across the word Pharisee in the Bible, my first thought is, I’m glad I’m not a Pharisee. Then I rush on to read the next verse.

Pharisees comprised a sect of Judaism. A religious bunch, they received the bulk of Jesus’ criticism over their conceited behavior and self-righteous attitudes. Though Jesus accepted most people as they were, loving them in spite of themselves, he was quick to censure the Pharisees for their legalistic approach to living life. They were the bad guys of the New Testament. I’m glad I’m not a Pharisee.

However, when I come across the word Pharisee in the Bible, I now no longer breeze past it with smug self-assurance. I now substitute the word Christian for it, which gives me the opportunity to consider if I do, at times, act like a Pharisee. Though this switch obscures the original meaning, it also makes it more personal, allowing for better self-examination.

There are, of course, other words that might work even better for some people, such as Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox. Perhaps using evangelical or charismatic might make these verses more personal. Or insert your particular denomination, such as Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, Pentecostal, and so forth. Pick the term you most identify with, use it to replace Pharisee, and let God speak to you. Then be sure to listen.

Though it’s an uncomfortable thought, I wonder if we Christians are more like Pharisees then we care to admit.

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2 Comments

  • rocksand5 Posted January 24, 2015 1:39 pm

    This kinda reminds me of a joke.
    A man and 2 women, each from a different denomination, enter the gate of Heaven and meet St. Peter. Peter asks the man what denomination he’s with and then leads him down a hall to a room on the right with the admonishment to not make a sound as they pass the first door on the left. He returns and asks the next woman in line the same question, and proceeds to lead her down the same hall, this time to a room further down on the left, with the exact same warning.
    When he gets back to the final woman, asks her denomination and upon hearing her answer, starts to lead her to a room down the hall even further away and on the right. As he begins to give her the same instruction to keep quiet while passing the first door on the left, her curiosity gets the best of her and she asks him “Why?”
    He answers, ” Oh, those are the ___________s. They think they are the only ones up here!” ( Fill in the blank with any super legalistic denomination.)
    I first heard it years ago and still think it’s pretty funny!

    • Peter DeHaan Posted January 24, 2015 3:54 pm

      Love it!

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