“so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others.
They do all their deeds to be seen by others.”
Pharisees were very quick to point out the faults and shortcomings in other people’s lives while making sure to keep up all appearances of perfection and adherence to the law for themselves. They dragged a woman caught in adultery out into the street and asked Jesus what He felt should be her punishment. Their religio-righteous anger and frustration can be felt when we read of their interactions with Jesus, “friend of sinners”. One might almost feel the need to watch their back as they think about the Pharisees, so as to avoid being struck by a stone, or impaled by the plank in their eye.
You see, Pharisees were the people who appeared to have it all together and the people that looked down in self-righteous judgment on those who did not. They strained the gnat but swallowed the camel. They tithed their spices, but neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. There is a reason that Jesus called these types of people “whitewashed tombs…outwardly beautiful, but full of death and uncleanness”.
When one becomes so caught up in appearing to be clean, righteous, and “together” that he or she begins to neglect practices like compassion, justice, faithfulness, mercy, and brotherly love, then they have very well compromised their very selves in the process. Jesus warns not to model the behavior of people who live this way. Instead, we are asked to model Jesus himself, the one who called the so called religious leaders to drop their stones, who dined with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes. We are called to give mercy, not a sacrifice. We are called to love our brothers and sisters with the same non-condemning and non-judgmental love that Christ showed to the people of his day.
Instead of shaking a finger in holy righteousness and judgment… instead of picking up stones of condemnation and causing pain…
May we be a people who use our hands to love, to heal, to build up God’s people and God’s kingdom.
Don’t wag that finger at me – instead… hold my hand, and walk beside me as we journey through this life together.
Shalom, Y’all –