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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Pharisee: Missing the Vital Ingredient

Christen and I were getting ready for dinner one day, and as we were in prep mode, I discovered that we did not have one ingredient that gives this specific dish its umph.  After the usual husband and wife talk (Anthony go to the store and get it!  Anthony just walk over to the neighbors and ask to borrow some!) I elected for the dumbest solution....just make it without that ingredient.  It will be fine!  I promise!  (An optimistic life I lead -but at times- I really need to be grounded...). 

An hour latter, everything was ready.  We sat down to eat.  And everything was BLAH.  "If I just had that one ingredient" this meal would have been marvelous"...I thought to myself. 

Did you know that their is one ingredient in the Christian faith that if left out will make things...BLAH?  That ingredient would be Humility. 

Think about this...
Being outwardly religious can be an inward evil.  Change just for change sake -without a heart change- will only lead to Pharisee(ism).  And if you do not know who these folks were, the Pharisee's were a group of men who lived when Jesus was on earth and they really liked to emphasize the external. 

If you have ever read your Bible, you will quickly find that these men and Jesus did not get along. (Think Yankee fans and Boston fans).  See, Jesus was all about the heart.  He knew that people can do the right things for the wrong reasons.  So motives were important for Him.  On one occasion, after Jesus ministered to a person that was down and out, the Pharisee's just could not accept that someone like Jesus would hang out with and be concerned with someone that was a social outcast.  So the Pharisee's brains burst open and were spewing hate at Jesus and then Jesus says to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."  Nice one.

As I think a bit more about that statement, it also reveals something else about those Pharisee's.  They did not see themselves as sick.  Now lets be clear, I am not talking about a sinus infection but a spiritual sickness I affectionately call:  SIN.  They thought they had it all together.  In other words, they did not comprehend their need for God. There is this really great Bible verse that says, "Humble Yourself in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you."  It seems to me that people who just focus on the outward and forget about the inward are forgetting the most important ingredient of the Christian faith.  HUMILITY.

The Pharisees' forgot that when you reach out to God -you start by being on your knees- in humility, acknowledging your sin and crying out for the grace and mercy of God.  It is then that the "Lord exalts" you, not the other way around. 

One last thing:
-Before you get all "humble" on me and everyone else. Remember that if you were to ask the Pharisees if they were humble, they would say YES!  So it is important to keep in mind that there is a litmus test to this humility. 

Ready?  Here it is... A healthy understanding of yourself only comes when you see yourself for who you really are -and this is only done by looking to God.  Comparing ourselves with ourselves (a Horizontal approach) gives us a contrived understanding of who we really are.  It lowers the bar and we merely end up comparing ourselves with our friends or what we believe to be socially acceptable. 

A Vertical approach will reveal that we fall short of God's glory and will also reveal our need for God. 

The way to gain a proper perspective is to gaze upwards, and get a true glimpse of God.  This can be done by a healthy reading of God's Word or by a Bible preaching church.  When you genuinely seek God, watch out!  His Spirit just might grab hold of you and breathe life into you and you will be a changed person. 

                                 "God, You do not delight in sacrifice or else I would give it...
    But the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a humble heart...
                                                   This, Oh God, You will not turn away."
                                                                    -Psalm 51: 16-17

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