The words were stunning and shocking. The doctor, after much testing said to me, “Mrs. Benton, we are 99% sure you have ovarian cancer, and it has already spread to nearby lymph nodes. You will need surgery to remove all the disease, and by my side will be a surgical oncologist, who will check all the organs to see how much the disease has spread.” That was nineteen years ago, and praise be to God, I am still here! He still works miracles!
The Sunday after my surgery, I was not able to be in the church service. A friend of mine was so grateful for the miracle God had done in my body that she began to dance with the joy of the Lord. Others began to join in and celebration erupted in the house. Then, an unbelievable thing happened. One man looked with disdain upon the celebration, citing that my friend had never danced this way before, so why today? He could not celebrate the great victory because he was too busy being a Pharisee – righteous enough to dance when he wanted, but eager to tell others why they shouldn’t or couldn’t!
Please don’t think my intention is to be hard on my fellow believer. We all have some Pharisee in us, and when it shows its face, religion can get real ugly real fast.
“On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. (Luke 6:6-7)
Jesus showed up in church one day and saw a man with a withered hand. Jesus just can’t help being Jesus – filled with compassion and eager to heal. It was a beautiful thing Jesus did as he healed that man’s hand and set him free. What God did that day was incredible. Yet, in that same service, some of the “church” folks were watching, not to celebrate what was right, but to point out what was wrong.
It is so easy to sit in a church gathering looking for what we don’t like, or seething over the one thing we disagreed with in the sermon. In our minds, we can turn the beautiful things of God into something ugly real fast if we let the Pharisee take over.
Pharisees don’t seek to love and heal those around them, but to show them every little thing that is wrong with them. Pharisees could never enjoy the presence of Jesus because they were always trying to make sure every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed just right. If even one thing wasn’t like they thought it should be, church was over for them. How many times did they miss the presence of Jesus touching them because somebody offended them by the way they did something? Pharisees loved the best seats. They wanted to be seen. How many times do we walk away from the things of God because no one noticed me, or no one spoke to me?
Beloved, the presence of Jesus is always where two are three are gathered in His name. He is there to touch us, cleanse us, renew us and empower us. Don’t miss out on what God is doing because you see someone who is not quite living up to your standards, or, you see a leader that has done you wrong, so no way are you rejoicing in that service!
The Pharisaical spirit is from Satan to keep us from entering into the life-changing work of the Spirit. That spirit is determined to kill the life of Christ in you. As a born-again, Spirit-filled child of God declare boldly, “Pharisaical spirit, get out of me. You will not rule my worship or my ability to enter into God this day! You will not destroy me or hinder the work of God in my life, my family or in my church.”
How well I know that I must be careful about the Pharisee in me.
Let God arise and His enemies be scattered!