Hello, I’m a Pharisee

Men Small


I stood during the invitation and searched the crowd for my friend. These thoughts raced through my head “I sure hope her heart was open to that message and it convicted her. I wonder if she will go up front and pray. Goodness that message was just for her.”

In Luke18, a Pharisee and a tax collector both went to the temple to pray. They prayed two very different prayers. The Pharisee prayed like this to himself “God, thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.” The tax collector, unable to even lift his eyes prayed “God be merciful to me, the sinner!”

I am that Pharisee

I so badly want to tell you that I am like the tax collector, but I know I am the Pharisee. My husband looked me square in the eye after service ended and said “Let’s not think about how this message was for other people, let’s consider what God wants to teach us.” HOW DID HE KNOW?? I must have been wearing my Pharisee attitude proudly, protesting “Oh God, thank you that I am not like my friend who needed to hear that message. Lord, please convict her.”

Luke tells us in verse 9 that Jesus told this parable to some people “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.” And without a doubt I know I often like to point out the sin of other people instead of dealing with the sin residing in my own heart. Hello, I am the Pharisee from Luke 18.

Greater righteousness

Our Righteousness Must Be More

Matthew 5:20 tells us “that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” My self-made righteousness will never be enough. I could never do enough or be enough to earn righteousness. It does not matter how hard I seek to exalt myself, I need a greater righteousness than I could ever achieve.

Jesus is Enough

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross covers all of my sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus died so that I might become the righteousness of God, not so I could strive to gain the righteousness of God in my own strength. Jesus is more than enough and in Him I am righteous.

Only Jesus copy

Stop Striving and Seek Jesus

In my Pharisee nature I want to give you this neat list of what to do next. I want to have these cleverly devised words to compel you to live for Jesus. We must stop striving for self-made righteousness. Instead we must realize how desperately we need Jesus. We must want Jesus more than we want to exalt ourselves. Like me you might be wondering, “Great! Now what do I do? How do I get there?”

Only Jesus can compel you to live for Him. He must even give us a desire to need Him. The tax collector understood that he couldn’t do anything of his own accord. He realized how desperately He needed God. We need God to rain down His grace on us and in His love compel us to live for Him.

My Heart is the Problem

I have a heart problem. In my heart, I would rather point out the sin of other people. I would rather stand and look out for my friend to see if God convicted her. My friend is not the problem. My heart is the problem. I need Jesus to renew and restore my heart daily. I need Him to rip out my Pharisee ways, remind me of my foolishness, and give me a heart like the tax collector “”God be merciful to me, the sinner!”


Fatal Distractions

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