The Inner Pharisee

by Rhonda, June 11, 2022

I like for things to be a certain way.  Maybe you do, too.  

I like for my house to look a certain way.  I like for my appearance to look a certain way.  I am pretty particular about keeping my car clean, making sure we look nice for church, and even keeping the pets well groomed.  I'm a classic, incurable type-A personality, so by nature, everything has its place.  

But, our goal really shouldn't be about having the best image in the room, with the best appearance or the nicest home.  The last thing our friends and relatives need is for us to be competing with them, making it more difficult to keep up.  No character trait is more needed in our world today than being genuine. We should always strive to remain real, and while it is fine to be particular about certain things (towel folding, anyone?), if it begins to influence our self-worth, we've got a problem.   

Do you know who else was very concerned about appearance?

The Pharisees.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation (Matthew 23:14).

The Pharisees wanted the appearance of being holy, but they had no real heart for God.  In fact, rituals and appearance took the place of God in the Pharisees' lives.  Only God is to be our strength, not a ritual and certainly not a long-winded prayer (as mentioned in Matthew 23:14).  Finding self-worth in appearances, accomplishments, and rituals leads to one thing:  Pride.

The Pharisees were tremendously prideful.  How tragic to spend an entire life supposedly devoted to God, yet never learning from God.  The idolatry around appearance and power prevented the conversion of their souls.  They were constantly competing, angling to maintain their power.  They consistently looked for affirmation in their own evaluations, instead of looking to God for their affirmation.  They were so lost they couldn't see the Messiah when He was standing in front of them.  

It is possible our obsession with appearance and perfection could do the same?  Could our Inner Pharisee be creating an avenue for pride to grow in our lives?  If so, the only solution is to stay on a quest to kill our Inner Pharisee.  Inner Pharisees depend on things to look and feel a certain way.  Its pride.  Kill it, and begin to recover some of your joy.  (Notice the lack of joy the Pharisees had.) Don't let pride pull you back, hold you down, and keep you from enjoying your life.

We cannot be followers who knowingly fight against God to save our own appearances.  We cannot hide in religious busyness, avoiding contact with God. God wants us to have joy now, in our daily lives.  He wants us to learn to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who gives life.  Idolatry of appearance will kill, but the Spirit gives life.

Having a heart for God doesn't mean we're meant to be perfect.  It simply means we care about the things God cares about.  Jesus is the one who can save us and set our hearts free.  Don't let yourself be convinced anything else can do what only God can do.

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