Why is it so hard for us to receive correction? When someone attempts to point out sin or error on our part, we quickly flare up, getting defensive and justifying ourselves. Because of our sinful nature, we have practiced since childhood acting as our own “defense attorney.” We skillfully play the part as we lay out arguments trying to convince others why we are always right. In fact, when someone corrects us, we usually try to “flip the script” and find something wrong with the other person! How often do we hear the words (or have said them), “Who are you to judge me?” While reading Matthew 23 today, I discovered the strong rebukes Jesus directed at the Pharisees. Seven times in this chapter Jesus says, “Woe to you!” He did not do this because He hated the Pharisees. Rather, He loved them enough to tell them the truth. For example, in verses 25-26 Jesus says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” From history we see the group called “Pharisees” did not start out wrong. They first organized into a faithful minority during the times of the Maccabees (around 167 BC). While others caved in to the Greek culture and gods, they took a stand to live holy. However, over time the Pharisees got mired in the externals of religion. To them, looking holy was more important than being holy. When Jesus put the spotlight on the dirtiness of their hearts, they became offended, adopting the attitude of who does He think He is! They did everything they could to oppose Jesus…all the way to the cross. Maybe someday we will meet a Pharisee who listened and repented at Jesus’ words. However, you can be sure that most never allowed the Lord to clean the inside of their cup. May the Lord help us to receive His warning and allow Him to clean us from the inside out. We need both the promises of the Lord… and the warnings!
Pastor Mark Boucher