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Faithful utterances

You might be a Pharisee if…

by Froswa Booker-Drew
Froswa’ Booker-Drew

I was recently reminded of a book and comedy tour entitled ‘You Might be a Redneck If’ by Jeff Foxworthy which was wildly successful in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Foxworthy shared these one-liners about his experiences that became common in culture and language. It reminded me of how quickly ideas, beliefs, and ways of thinking can spread.

For many Christians, many of the ideas we embrace go against the teachings of Christ. As much as we talk about the Pharisees of the Bible as if they existed in the past, I can confidently say that the beliefs and actions of that group of church leaders still exist today. In Luke 11:37-54 and Matthew 23: 13-39, Jesus calls out the Pharisees.

In a culture that wants to feel good and get rich quickly, there is a lot that is missing in our character and our congregations. What we say we believe, and our actions often do not align. As I write this article, I, too, am not exempt from this reality check. The Pharisees were Synagogue-going, Torah-toting, and scripture-quoting individuals (sounds familiar?) who were so ready to condemn others but failed to see their own shortcomings.

How often do we do the same thing?

You Might be a Pharisee If… ‘You claim to love God but don’t love those whom God has created.’

“If anyone boasts that ‘I love God,’ and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both,” 1 John 4:20, MSG. We cannot hate people because of (name the identity or descriptor) and turn around and praise God. That’s hypocrisy.

You might be a Pharisee If… You are so fixated on your outer appearance and the appearance of others that you fail to see the toxic mess on the inside. We are too busy getting for ourselves instead of caring about others. “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you,” John 11:39.

You might be a Pharisee If… You talk about giving to God but fail to talk about giving justice to God’s children from your pulpit. “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue, and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God,” John 11: 42. You emphasize your building funds, anniversaries, homecoming, and other opportunities for funding and fail to raise (and do something about) issues that impact those you serve.

You might be a Pharisee If… You love to be seen and want to be important, but no work backs it up.

 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces,” John 11:43. In our society, everyone wants a title, but very few are willing to do the hard work, the behind the scenes work that doesn’t get glory or is a flattering shot for the Gram.

You might be a Pharisee If… You bring people to the church and then mistreat them. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are,” Matthew 23:15. They sing better or have a talent that outshines yours, instead of celebrating their gifts, you isolate them. The Pharisees lacked a relationship that could have changed their destiny. They were attending services and doing what they thought was right, and yet, God was in their presence—but they missed Him. Don’t miss God because of being blinded by tradition and rituals.

Be careful my friends, you just might be a Pharisee….

(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry podcast and the author of three books for women. She is also the vice president of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. To learn more, visit <drfroswa.com>.)

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