“It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
We’ve all had some in our lives at one time or another. You know, the kind that “love” you by correcting every little thing you do (or don’t do) that doesn’t match their world view. Of course, they’re above reproach in every area.
Just ask them.
Better yet, ask their spouse. Or kids. Or neighbors. Or the last person they corrected. You’re far more likely to hear the real story from the people they “touch” on a regular basis. They are most likely, and most unfortunately, leaving a bloody trail behind them.
I find it very interesting that Jesus displayed amazing compassion to the broken, hurting and hungry, but the Pharisees… well… different story there. Jesus told them they were “white washed tombs” and “sons of snakes” and (my personal favorite) “children of the devil.” Sounds pretty harsh, right? Well, not really if you think about it. They believed they were justified by their works and by their keeping every little detail of the law. Except for the loving your neighbor thing. And the showing mercy thing. Oh, and the humbling yourself before God thing. They weren’t so good at those.
They still aren’t so good at those.
The problem: pride.
Pride still makes Pharisees see themselves as officers of the law, helping God by judging the lives of others while themselves remaining unteachable, uncorrectable and hard-hearted. Pride still causes them to think they are better and closer to God than others, sometimes including their own pastors and mentors. Pride still causes them to notice and address the toothpick in someone else’s eye, while somehow managing not to notice the 3-bedroom house in their own eye. Pride still causes them to walk deceived, thinking everyone else is the problem.
I’m not saying I know any of these people personally… well, I might know some, I’m just not saying. You might know one or two of them yourself.
What do you do with the Pharisees in your neighborhood?
Don’t EVER step onto their battlefield. Be a voice of reason. Share the truth in love. Protect others from their venom. And personally, ignore their words. Ignore their judgment. Ignore their alternate reality.
Love them. That’s right, love them.
Pray for them.
Pray for mercy.
Pray that “the eyes of their understanding be enlightened, that they may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18) – Pray that they begin to see the value in others as they see His glory reflected in them.
Pray that you walk humble, correctable, loving and kind among other people.
And when you pray, if you find that you are one of them, repent. Turn from it. Ask people to forgive you. Make it right with people. And make it right with God.
And don’t ever go back there again.