Summary: You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if you think you’re better than other Christians
This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
A story is told of a very wise turtle that wanted to spend the winter in Florida, but he knew he could never walk that far. So this very wise turtle convinced a couple of geese to help him, each taking one end of a piece of rope, while he clamped his vise-like jaws in the center. The flight went fine until someone on the ground looked up in admiration and asked, "Who in the world thought of that?" Unable to resist the chance to take credit, the turtle opened his mouth to shout, "I did--"
As humans, we like to take credit for the good things that we do. While there are exceptions, it goes against human nature to do something good without getting recognition. Most of us want that warm feeling that we get when someone recognizes and appreciates us. And even worse, we often keep track of those things in our head and begin to think that because we’ve done something good or helpful for someone else that they now owe us.
While we do it with a very “tongue in cheek” attitude, Mary and I often play that game. Every week when she handles all the children’s ministry so that I don’t have to worry about it, especially on those weeks when she has to fill in for someone who doesn’t show up for Children’s Church, I tell her I owe her. And when I go help her with a rocket launch at school or prepare dinner for her book club, then tell her that she owes me. But let me just say that in those situations, being in debt to each other often ends up being a very enjoyable position to be in.
But when that happens in the church, it is not nearly as pleasant or profitable. When those who claim to be disciples of Christ practice their Christianity in order to be seen and recognized and even to demonstrate that they are a “better” Christian than others, that causes problems within the church family and it also becomes a big “turn off” for those outside the church. And as I think we’ll discover this morning, all of us are probably a lot more prone to doing that than we might think.
This is the second message in our current series – Modern Day Pharisees. We’re using Jesus’ final public sermon in Matthew 23 to do two things:
1) To recognize the areas of our life where we may have developed some Pharisaical attitudes and where we may have become “modern day Pharisees”. Last week we summarized what we’re going to learn in this series by saying that…
You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if…
o You judge the Scriptures rather than being judged by them (We covered that first trait last Sunday)
o You think you’re better than other Christians (We’re going to cover this second trait today)
o You are more interested in making clones of yourself than disciples of Jesus
o You look for loopholes in God’s Word in order to excuse your sin
o You major in minors and minor in majors
o You work harder at looking good than being good
2) To develop some practical ways that we can deal with those attitudes in a Biblical manner.
This morning, we’re going to focus on this second indication that you might be a “modern day Pharisee”:
You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if you
think you’re better than other Christians
[Read Matthew 23:5-12]
The scribes and the Pharisees considered themselves to be superior to their fellow Jews. As we saw last week, they had elevated themselves to a place of authority that was not rightfully theirs. And they abused that authority and judged the Word of God rather than being judged by it.
In today’s passage, we’re going to see how these scribes and Pharisees focused on externals that they thought would demonstrate their superiority over their fellow Jews. As we dig into this passage this morning, we all need to be very careful about judging these Jewish religious leaders for their actions while at the same time failing to recognize how we do the very same thing, albeit in different ways. So I want to encourage all of us to personalize this passage and think about the ways that we are tempted to show other Christians that we are superior to them with our outward actions.