- They didn't practice as they preached.
- They loved to be exalted.
- They were more concerned about what they looked like and did on the outside that their hearts were filthy.
Let's talk about these three items, because I know that all of us in some way resemble a Pharisee in these areas. They didn't practice what they preached. How do we do the same? For me, when a friend faces difficulty, I encourage them to continue to trust God and His plan. But then what about when times get tough for me? Oh, I know the thing to do is surrender to Christ and His ways, but you think I do it right away? Sometimes I question God as to why He allows certain things or I try to pry out of Him another part of His plan. Honestly though, I am glad He keeps the whole plan quiet until the perfect time, otherwise it would be a lot harder to trust Him with the big picture rather than one step at a time. In what areas do you not act in your life that you encourage others to act in theirs?
They love to be exalted. I think the desire to be exalted is a very natural, human thought. Jesus asks to be different, He asks us to be humble. The way that I struggle with this, is pointing out something I did, instead of waiting for someone to notice, if they do at all. My purposes of doing something should not be to receive praise, but rather to glorify God in all I do. If I do something to bring glory upon myself, it is sin. How do you exalt yourself? The one thing I have noticed is when I do exalt myself, Jesus does humble me, just as He says in verse 12. Being humbled is not a great feeling, but a necessary part of maturing in your walk with Him. If we don't learn humility, then our pride is too big to let God be in control.
They were more concerned about what they looked like and did on the outside that their hearts were filthy. Just like the Pharisees, we try to clean up our act, without changing our hearts. We can tidy up the act, but if our hearts aren't cleaned, then our hearts will overflow with some other filth that we will try to clean up. Our life will continue in a circle of cleaning up the outside, over and over again, while the heart remains unclean. God would rather us be a mess on the outside, and honestly surrender our hearts to God so He can wash them clean, then us to pretend we are clean and really be a mess. Remember, God will get glory for hearts being cleaned, and once the hearts are cleaned, the outside becomes cleaner too. We can make it look like our hearts are in order by tidying up the outside, but it doesn't matter what it looks like. A person can look clean on the outside, but if they're filthy on the inside, like the Pharisees, then their eternal home will not be heaven. For me, this is when I had a secret porn addiction. I was leading worship, on a leadership committee and in a leadership role at a church and I was watching pornography. Sure, I looked really clean on the outside, but I was a disaster on the inside. If any of you know me personally, I am not typically a person to work on tidying up the outside while keeping the inside a mess. I really do try my best at giving Jesus my all- and allowing Him to clean my heart up. I do as He asks even when it's humbling and uncomfortable, and even though I may be a mess on the outside, I know that my outward appearance will change once my inside is properly cleaned. How does your heart look? How do you appear? Transparency is a great testimony to what God is doing in you. People see the mess, but they also see God clean it up. I encourage you to be different than the Pharisees.