I Am A Self-Righteous Pharisee

I Am A Self-Righteous Pharisee April 26, 2019

A few days ago a friend of mine posted something online that revealed his hatred for Muslims. In response, I suggested that he should consider what Jesus said about learning to love our enemies.

Not only did my friend not take that advice very well, he quickly accused me of being a “self-righteous Pharisee” and said that “Jesus opposed being a Pharisee.”

Before I could respond he ended the conversation by un-friending me.

Now, I could write a blog post about how wrong my friend was in this case. I could expound on the irony of calling me a Pharisee in response to my suggesting that he follow Jesus’s commands. [Something no Pharisee would ever do, of course].

But, instead of doing that I’d like to talk about how I have failed to obey Jesus, even as I call him my “Lord.”

It’s too easy to react to the failures of others, isn’t it? Peter was quick to point to the Apostle John and ask Jesus, “What about him?” when Jesus had just told Peter to follow him and feed his sheep.

And Jesus response to Peter is the same to you and to me: “What is it to you? Follow me!”

So, I have to examine my own heart first and when I do I realize that lately there have been several times when I have called Jesus “Lord, Lord” even though I was not doing what He said to do.

*I have failed to love my neighbor as I love myself.
*I’ve failed to risk my pride in order to serve someone else.
*I’ve held back my money from those who asked for help because of my own selfishness.
*I’ve joined in the gossip talk at work rather than walk away.

That’s just for starters.

But, I do believe that Jesus sincerely wants us to follow Him. He absolutely expects us to put his words into practice. That’s why, right after he spoke those words about calling him “Lord, Lord” he went on to tell this parable about the difference between those who hear His words and put them into practice, and those who do not.

“But he who merely hears and does not practice doing My words is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation, against which the torrent burst, and immediately it collapsed and fell, and the breaking and ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:47-49)

So, Jesus isn’t vague about this. He warns us that our lives depend upon putting his words into practice. His words are life. They are not simply words to be believed, or accepted as true. No. Jesus demands that those who follow him sincerely put his words into practice, daily.

I love when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet on the night he is betrayed, and afterwards he sits back down and says:
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17)

Knowing the truth isn’t the same as doing it. Being a Christian isn’t only about what you believe, it’s actually more about what you do with the things you say you believe.

In other words, it’s just as much about Orthopraxy (what you do), as it is about Orthodoxy (what you believe).

When another person fails so spectacularly at following Jesus, and runs hard in the opposite direction to avoid even discussing the possibility of putting Jesus’ words into practice, it should not make us feel superior.

Far from it.

It should knock us to our knees.

Not only to pray for our brothers and sisters who are building their lives on the sand, but to take a good, hard look into the mirror and honestly evaluate our own unwillingness to put the words of our Lord into practice.

That is why I’m confessing my own failures and exposing my own areas of weakness, here and now.

I’m asking Jesus to come and live and breathe in me anew, and to empower me with His Spirit to love as He loves, give as He gives, serve as He serves, and forgive as He forgives.

Like Paul, I forget the past and press on to the high calling of Christ. My hope is not in my own strength, but in His.

My confidence lies only in this: “When I am weak, then I am strong”, for my own weakness “is the power of Christ at work in me.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Without Him, I can do nothing. But if He abides in me, and if I abide in Him, together we will bear much fruit.

What the world needs now are more Christians who are serious about taking the words of Jesus and putting them into practice.

Let the abiding begin.

Otherwise, I’m no better than a self-righteous Pharisee.

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. 

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

Join me this summer at one of these upcoming events:

*El Paso, TX – May 19 “United We Stand”

*Costa Mesa, CA – June 22 “United We Stand”

*Hot Springs, NC – July 11-14 “Wild Goose Festival”

Want Keith to come speak at your church or in your home town? Learn more HERE

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Chuck Johnson

    So, Jesus isn’t vague about this. He warns us that our lives depend upon putting his words into practice. His words are life. They are not simply words to be believed, or accepted as true. No. Jesus demands that those who follow him sincerely put his words into practice, daily.

    Jesus isn’t vague about demanding that we do what he tells us to do.
    But the actual lessons that Jesus provides are quite vague.
    Those lessons lack the details needed to put them into practice.

    Then, a moralist like Keith will point the finger at himself or at others and he tries to create feelings of guilt.
    The minor fault is with Keith and others who are trying to create real-life morality based upon the words of Jesus as written in the Bible.
    The major fault is with the vague and incomplete moral instructions which are given in the Bible.

    It is no wonder that many Christians disagree with each other on moral issues and then end up angry, outraged, contemptuous or just confused and disappointed with their fellow Christians.

    And then they call each other “hypocrites”.

  • I called myself a hypocrite. I never called you or anyone else one.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    There is no god.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Why is church so boring?

  • Chuck Johnson

    When another person fails so spectacularly at following Jesus, and runs hard in the opposite direction to avoid even discussing the possibility of putting Jesus’ words into practice, it should not make us feel superior.
    Far from it.
    It should knock us to our knees.
    Not only to pray for our brothers and sisters who are building their lives on the sand, but to take a good, hard look into the mirror and honestly evaluate our own unwillingness to put the words of our Lord into practice.
    That is why I’m confessing my own failures and exposing my own areas of weakness, here and now.

    You include yourself and many others in your criticism of failure to comply with Jesus’s instructions.
    You can’t fool me.

    Besides, you’re missing the point of my comment.
    Guilt, finger-pointing, saying “hypocrite” are a very inadequate way to motivate people towards following the moral ideals that Jesus speaks about.

    The scriptures have a serious shortcoming.
    The words of Jesus direct his followers towards certain ideals of behavior, but then when it comes time to explain the details of how we can pursue such a path of improved behavior, no such details are available.
    Instead, Jesus points his finger and accuses.
    And with this accusation, even Jesus becomes a hypocrite.
    But that’s only human.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Apparently, it’s boring for you because you are not impressed by stories involving magic and miracles.

  • Waverly

    Why do you keep coming here if your sure of your beliefs? Sounds like your full of doubt and scared. Do you dream of demons chasing you while you sleep at night?

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Not being 9 years old, no, I’m not. Fairy tales don’t do it for me anymore. Why they continue to do it for an alarming number of adults amazes me.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “Why they continue to do it for an alarming number of adults amazes me.”

    It’s their way of promoting morality, obedience, social cohesion, etc.
    It has a long, long history.
    In the USA, it continues to decline in popularity.

    https://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast-1/episode/79f41389/the-nones-are-coming

  • Chuck Johnson

    I was never impressed by the supernatural content that I was shown at church or at Sunday school.
    Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were not very credible to me, either.
    Demons are fictional characters, too.

  • Chuck Johnson

    I believe in a God who is a fictional character and a human invention.
    God does things, but only through the agency of human beings.
    He is just an idea.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    In Matthew 23:3, Jesus says “so do and observe whatever they [The Pharisees] tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”

    The Sadducees were enemies of Christ who conspired to have him killed.The Pharisees preferred to debate things with him, mostly to use him to argue against the Sadducees. There were to main branches of Pharisees, the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai, plus some in between. Jesus’s views almost all aligned with those of the House of Hillel, except that he took an even stricter position on Divorce than the school of Shammai. Jesus taught during the years that the legalistic House of Shammai was dominant. Shammai himself was usually considered a righteous man, but his followers were renounced for their hypocrisy.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Then how can he/she/it “do” anything?

  • Waverly

    Answer the question, if your belief is authentic, you wouldn’t come here and comment. I think your scared and in doubt.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Religious monsters do not scare me.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “Answer the question, if your belief is authentic, you wouldn’t come here and comment.”

    Now you’re being dishonest.
    If you want to know something, ask, do not make things up.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Through the agency of human beings.
    Ideas do this.

    Uncle Tom, Eliza, Little Eva and the rest helped to end slavery in the USA.

    Little Orphan Annie inspired the creation of a Broadway show and a movie.

    Etc.
    Do not underestimate the power of fictional characters.

  • Waverly

    You are dishonest with yourself. You wouldn’t come on here if your beliefs were authentic. I do know you.

  • Chuck Johnson

    I believe that God is a fictional character and a human invention.

    I believe that the best foundation for morality is to understand the four billion year long history of life on Earth, especially the evolutionary events that created the human race.

    You said that you know me.
    Is what I just said what you knew ?

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Uncle Tom did absolutely nothing. I’d guess Sherman and Lincoln and Grant did more.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Uncle Tom is an idea.
    Ideas do lots of things.
    When I type my ideas to you, you come back with an answer.

    That’s the power of my ideas, they do something.
    That is, they cause you to do something.
    You reply.

    But my ideas have no brain and no mind.
    I am the one with the brain and the mind.
    I am the author of my ideas.

    Uncle Tom and other fictional characters function this same way.
    They are ideas which accomplish things.

  • madalyn baumstark

    what about certain current political personas?! I know that Jesus loves him. I know that, l like it or not, the Lord is present in him. but heaven HELP me, I cannot harbor a single drop of charity for that man in my partisan little heart.

    thank God I know that I am already forgiven!

  • rtgmath

    While self-reflection is indeed warranted, you were right to confront your friend about his hatred. Else such Scriptures that tell us to reprove, rebuke, and exhort are all merely puffs in the wind.

    So don’t denigrate your intentions. In judging the fruit as evil you were exercising discernment, and your friend effectively declared he did not care to actually follow Christ, but that he should be praised as a follower of Christ all the same.

    You are my friends if you do what I command you, Jesus said. It is a mirror we hold up to ourselves and a standard by which we judge other things. Otherwise we leave ourselves open to being deceived.

  • ashpenaz

    I think it would help all Christians if all of our statements began with “That’s one way to look at it” and ended with “But I could be wrong.”

  • gloriamarie

    It has often occured to me as I read the Bible, that when Jesus talks about self-righteous Pharisees or foolish virgins who don’t bring oil for their lamos, tht Jesus is tling about me. It’s so esy to think tht because I am a Christian, I am automatically the “good” guy in the parables. I really am not.