Psalms of a Middle Aged Woman
6/27/13 at 11:08 PM 5 Comments

My Previous Life as a Pharisee

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I wasn't born a Jew, nor do I believe in reincarnation, but it's true: I used to be a Pharisee. I was the woman with that look of disgust when I disapproved of some sinner's actions. I practiced my public prayers for hours, worried that they weren't eloquent or long enough. It was important to impress people with my "holier than thou" lifestyle. I was working hard to earn my ticket to Heaven and I wanted anyone and everyone to know how holy I was and my thoughts and opinions on how they too could earn the seal of approval. Whether I had forgotten or just didn't understand, this whole sanctimonius side show wasn't necessary. Infact, it was the Pharisees, not the sinners, that Jesus took to task.

Matt. 5:20 "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

There is the story of the woman at the well. You know, the one with five husbands, living with a man she wasn't married to? We see Jesus, patient and loving, initiating a conversation with *gasp* a Samaritan woman, and inviting her to drink of the living water that leads to salvation. There was no scolding, no lecture, no wrinkling the nose to show disdain. Just His unconditional love. To a *gasp* Samaritan.

Zaccheus? You remember him. He collected taxes and padded his pockets with money he stole from hard working people. He knew that his lifestyle made him unworthy of inviting Jesus to dinner, so Jesus invited himself. He shared the good news of eternal life and made Zaccheus worthy of his time. The little man was so overwhelmed by the Savior's words and compassion that he vowed to return the money he stole, and then some. There was no demand for a Supreme Court Hearing, no letters to the Editor. Just His unconditional love.

The story that clutches at my heart involves Jesus's interaction with the woman accused of adultery. She was guilty and according to the Law, sentenced to be stoned to death. Not only did Jesus not accuse her, He stepped up and challenged the religious zealots to consider their own sins before casting the first stone. He protected her and when the righteously indignant dropped their stones and walked away, He lovingly set her free from her sin and simply told her to sin no more. There was no shame, no guilt trip, no rolling of the eyes. Just His unconditional love.

I understand now. I don't need to lecture, advise or show my disappointment in the sinner. We know what sin is because God gave us the Law. We also know that He sent Jesus because not one of us could keep the Law. Governments come and go. Laws of the land change with society's acceptance of what they believe is right. God's Law never changes. It doesn't matter what our opinion is. God has already given us His opinion; His Word. Saying wrong is right and right is wrong doesn't make it so, no matter how loudly it's communicated. This is the way of the world and God tells us not to get caught up in what the world says is right and wrong.

Matt. 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Jesus commands us to love one another. It wasn't a suggestion. We get so caught up in the sin that we confuse it with the hurting human that needs the love of Christ and a kind act or word of encouragement saying, "you are worthy". We are called to give sacrificially, love unconditionally, and forgive endlessly. You have heard that it's easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. Let's apply that to witnessing the Good News to the unsaved by loving them into a relationship with Jesus (Matt.5:43-48). Nobody has been selected for Eternal Jury duty. Only God knows the hearts of men and He alone is qualified to judge. Condemnation is Satan's goal.

For the non-believer, there is darkness. For the faithful, there is only the Light and love, unconditional love.

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