The Pharisee

Torah_Scroll_from_123rf.175212641When I read the gospels, I like to see myself as some of the cast of characters that were changed by Jesus. I want to be Mary, filled with awe and surrender as the angel visits her to tell her she will be the mother of Christ. I want to be the faith-filled bleeding woman, reaching for Jesus’ cloak and being called “Daughter,” or devoted Mary, the sister of Martha, sitting at Jesus’ feet. But many times, what I really am is: the Pharisee.

I am a Pharisee every time I judge my husband as being not as wise and knowing as me. I am a Pharisee every time I am critical of the way my husband parents, the way he spends his time, the way he relates to people. Jesus says in Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Ouch!

After twenty years of marriage, I am smart enough now to hold my tongue. I don’t always say the things that I am thinking. I’ve even gotten better at not showing my disapproval with my face: the smirking, the eye rolling and the looks of disgust. My heart, though, still harbors resentment. Unlike Mary who treasures up good things about Jesus in her heart, I store up offenses and resentments and lists of “not good enough.” I am the white washed tomb in Matthew 23:27, clean and oh so holy on the outside, but inside full of judgment and pride.

So, what do I do? That’s the question I ask myself. But the more I think about it, the more I know that it’s the wrong question. Do? The problem isn’t about doing. It’s not a try harder thing. Once again, the Pharisee in me wants to perform and “do” something. I’m actually pretty good at doing. I’ve learned to bite my tongue most times. I’ve learned to act respectfully, to serve and please my husband, to be a good wife. The doing hasn’t helped my heart.

When I get really quiet and still, I hear the answer. Jesus whispers it to me. He doesn’t whisper it to me the Pharisee, but to me the child, the one who has nothing on her own. “Remain in Me and I will remain in you. If you remain in Me, you will bear much fruit, apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4) and “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Eze.36:26-27).

Ahhh … Rest. Abide. Receive the gift of a new heart. Spend time with the Lord. Talk to Him honestly about all my brokenness, my failures, my hurts and fears. Surrender. Recognize that I’ve got NOTHING on my own. Read His Word. Have a walk of repentance. And little by little, He changes me. Not overnight. Not perfectly until heaven, but better and better. He changes my heart and does the inside work of renewal. He gives me a heart of flesh and replaces my heart of stone. This heart of flesh feels compassion for my husband instead of condemnation. This heart of flesh knows what a sinner I am and repents. This heart of flesh is needy of a Savior.

For further reflection for us Pharisees include Matthew 15:17-20, Matthew 23:25-28 and John 15:1-17.

Jackie Dunne