Summary: There are a lot of people whose lives can best be typified by their use of the word, "but." And there are also many people whose faith might very well be typified by the use of that wonderful word "therefore." (PowerPoint available - #191)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KASNSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at email@example.com and request #191.)
A. Generally, those of us who have read much of the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ don't have a very good opinion of the Pharisees.
We read the 23rd chapter of Matthew where 6 different times Jesus says, "Woe unto you, teachers of the Law, Pharisees, hypocrites!"
We remember also that it was a Pharisee who stood up in the Temple & prayed, "God, I thank you that I am not like other men - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all that I get." (Luke 18:11-12). In other words, "God, you're lucky to have me on your side."
We remember, too, in the story of the Good Samaritan that one of those who passed by on the other side, ignoring the wounded & bleeding man, was a Pharisee. These & other incidents leave us with a poor opinion of the Pharisees.
B. Well, we're not the only ones with a poor opinion of most of the Pharisees.
ILL. The writers of the Jewish Talmud listed 7 different kinds of Pharisees, & only one of those classifications was in any way favorable of them.
They agreed that there were some "God fearing Pharisees" who really & truly loved God, & devoutly sought to put into practice the Law of God in their lives. But these were greatly outnumbered by the other kinds of Pharisees.
Some were "Shoulder Pharisees," Pharisees who made quite a show of performing their religious duties. They wanted the praise of men, so they made sure that everybody saw them when they were fasting, or praying, or giving. In effect, they wore their religion on their shoulders for everybody to see.
There were the " Ever reckoning Pharisees " who kept careful track of all the good & bad things that they did, trying to make certain that they always had more good deeds to their credit than bad deeds to their discredit.
Then there were the "Timid or Fearful Pharisees." These were convinced that God was just waiting to zap them for doing something wrong, so they were very timid or fearful of changing the status quo, of doing anything at all.
Others were called "Hump backed or Tumbling Pharisees." These tried to show how humble they were by always shuffling around with their backs bent & their eyes on the ground. Shuffling along, they tumbled over things a lot.
Another group was called the "Bruised & Bleeding Pharisees." These were so fearful that they might see something evil, particularly women, that they kept their eyes tightly closed as they walked along. As a result, they bumped into & fell over things so much that they were constantly bruised & bleeding.
Last of all, there were those the Jewish writers called the "Wait A Little Pharisees." These sounded very religious, but they never got around to practicing what they preached. They were always going to do something special "tomorrow," but as the old saying goes, "tomorrow never comes."
Now I have said all this to get your attention on two words this morning, two words that are used quite often in the Bible to present two contrasting attitudes. And they are used just as often to present those same two contrasting attitudes today.
The first one is the adverb, "but." We use this word a lot, don't we? "I don't mean to be rude, but . . ." & then we proceed to be rude. "I don't want to interrupt, but . . ." & then we go on ahead & interrupt.
PROP. I'm convinced that the faith of a lot of people could very easily be typified by the word, "but."
I. IN THE BIBLE
A. In Luke 9:57-62, we are told that some men said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." Now that is a very positive statement. Then they completely destroyed the positive statement with the word, "but."
One said, "Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.' But he said, 'Lord, let me first go & bury my father.' Another one says, "I will follow you, Lord, but first I must go home & say goodbye to my family."
You see, they all conveyed the same idea. "Lord, we do want to follow you, but there are other things that come first. And as soon as we get them taken care of, then maybe we can get around to following you."
ILL. There are many other examples in scripture: Five foolish virgins who wanted to go to a wedding, but their lamps were without oil; Others were invited to a wedding feast, but one had to test some oxen, another had to look at a piece of land; & another one had just gotten married, himself.