I am a recovering Pharisee. I cannot read Matthew 23 without thinking about who I used to be shortly after meeting Jesus. I became obsessed with religious rules and legalism and forgot all about the grace that God had poured out on me through Jesus. As I look back on that time in my life there are eight things that really defined me…
#1 – I was way more obsessed with the sins and shortcomings of others and made it my obsession to point out their faults so that I did not have to deal with my own. (Matthew 23:27-28)
#2 – I made it my goal to catch people doing something wrong and condemn them rather than seeing them with the same eyes that Jesus saw me with, thus causing me to be broken for them and reach out to them with compassion and a genuine concern.
#3 – I would not associate with anyone or any group that did not acknowledge that I was completely correct in my view and interpretation of the Scriptures…and, if they didn't see just like me I would attack and malign them as often as possible. (Kind of goes against what Jesus said in John 13:34-35) Which leads to…
#4 – I only hung out/associated with people who thought just like me!
#5 – I was known more for what I attacked rather than what I built up!
#6 – I boasted in the knowledge that I possessed and looked down on those whom I perceived did not know as much as me.
#7 – I could not acknowledge anything that the Lord might have been doing that did not fit into my system of the way I believed God should do things (read Matthew 28:11-15, these guys, after hearing about the resurrection by eyewitnesses tried to suppress the story rather than being amazed by it!)
(I can literally remember a group of guys I was hanging out with in the mid 90′s who were always bashing Bill Hybels, so I joined in and began to talk about this church up in Chicago that was "compromising the Gospel." Then I went to a conference and heard him live, then I read some books by him and then I made a discovery that Bill Hybels had more people in his restrooms between services every Sunday than all of us had in our churches combined…and then I discovered that God worked outside of the framework of my mind!!! That was one of the most sobering realities I've ever had to deal with…and I am so thankful for Bill Hybels and what the Lord has used him and Willow Creek to accomplish! If you are a church planter you should know that Bill Hybels and Rick Warren took some bullets years ago that we do not have to take today because they were willing to endure the pain!)
#8 – I did not mind throwing out false accusations against those whom I felt were not getting it right! (John 8:48-51)