Choose Your Pharisee: So Many Judges, So Little Success

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. Matt. 5:20

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain
They surround us. They live among us and infect us with our inferiority. In the faculty room, the churches, the government, social groups, advocates…
Not the zombies.
The Pharisees.
If you don’t meet our standards, you are worthless.
I remember sitting at lunch in the faculty room. “Glory” was complaining about the lack of ethics of her students. “I’d NEVER dream of cheating,” she said.
I cringed, remembering my high school physics regents. Stuck on one question, I peeked at my neighbor. He had put down the answer I had guessed at, so I down that answer.
It turned out, I had gotten the second highest score in the class on that regents, so my answer could have been incorrect. Whether or not I got it right would not have changed the end result. It did, however, color my pride and sense of achievement. I’m ashamed to say, it’s not the only time I got “extra-help” on an assignment.
Worse than my immature lack of ethics is the guilt I’ve carried from my sin–forgetting that all I did had been washed clean by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Never could I say, I would never do something. My righteousness would never exceed that of the Pharisees.
Beware of the Pharisees. Who are they?
  • Judgmental coworkers–even when they’re good people (as Glory was) who work hard. If you don’t put in their hours, work to their ethical standards, you are found wanting.
  • Church leaders–my first church was extremely legalistic. In order to teach Sunday school,  or minister as a deacon or serve in any form of leadership, you had to “pass a test.” This was never anything formal, always vague, and you’ll never make the grade.
  • Parents–so many parents are dissatisfied with a B on a report card or a chosen career in retail. If you’re not a Harvard trained lawyer, you have failed.
  • Teachers–work of ten hours on an essay, and she’ll show you every typo you overlooked. (I never want her to read one of my novels. Even after an infinite number of edits, those pesky errors make it into print.)
  • Bosses–they insist the job comes first, count the minutes you’re late, call when you’re off, but never find you worthy of promotion.
  • Essentially, anyone who condemns and judges and finds you wanting.
Jesus says our righteousness must exceed the above people. Here’s how you do it:
  • Accept the righteousness of Christ by being born again.
We don’t need to be perfect. Jesus already is, and that makes our righteousness greater than that of the Pharisees.
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