The Way The Pharisees Do

[BY MATTHEW RUMBAUGH]

I consistently think I have earned something I am not getting. Just like the Pharisees banked their hope on being children of Abraham, I make my claim based on something I can’t even take credit for. See, I’ve been walking with God awhile, know my way around the Bible, led some small groups, gone on short-term mission trips … you name something spiritual and I’ve probably done it at least once. And all of it gets me thinking just how lucky God is to have me on His team.

Paul must have felt the same way a few times. Remember his list of attributes in Philippians 3? “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee.” But look at what he says next. “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”

That’s the attitude I’m trying to have, but I feel like I fall short most of the time. When I’m not happy in my job, guess how I pray? “Come on God…help me out here. I’ve been a good servant.” When something in ministry falls apart, guess how I pray? “God, how could You do this to me after I’ve served You so long?”

Thankfully, He usually smacks me awake with a quick reminder of just how blessed I am. And that’s really it. God has blessed me more than I could imagine. Great wife, good job, good friends, health, family, etc. But most of all, He has blessed me with His presence. And all those things I hang my hat on? That’s God, not me. And I conveniently forget that most of the time.

So, what’s my response to be? I’m a fan of starting with small things. In this instance, I’m trying to remember to carry around some extra change and give it out to the homeless. He’s asked me to remember the poor and change seems like a pretty simple way to do that.

I’m also trying to introduce myself to a new person at church every week, especially someone who doesn’t look like me. I suspect one of the reasons the Pharisees got so hard-hearted is they spent all their time with people just like themselves, perpetually reinforcing division, coldness and standoffishness.

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But the most important act is starting each day by reminding myself God doesn’t want to see my resume. He just wants my humble, broken heart. So I get on my face before Him, acknowledge that and start my day. And every circumstance I encounter, I ask myself: Am I responding like the Pharisees? Or like Christ?

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