Hope for Recovering Pharisees

Colossians 2:16-23

So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.

Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are. They’re completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us.

So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important.

Ok To Judge? It Depends…

Matthew 7 begins with a stern warning from Jesus about making judgements.

It reads:

“Judge not that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matt 7:1-2)

Now on face value this appears to be a commandment forbidding all judgment of others. I know in my own experience countless people have thrown this text up at me whenever I have made a judgment about the behavior of another person. It seems to me to be a universally used text against even forming an opinion about whether something or someone is good or evil.

But is this really what Jesus had in mind?

I think not.

Consider Matthew 18:15-20 where Jesus lays down the method for Church Discipline. He says that when your brother sins against you, confront that person. Well, how can you confront someone unless you’ve made a judgment about what they’ve done? You can’t confront sin without identifying it and to identify it, you must make a judgment.

So, since Jesus is implying the need to make judgments in Matthew 18, then is it really wrong to judge? Jesus would not instruct us against making judgments in Matthew 7 and then say it is ok to do so in Matthew 18. Right?

So what is Jesus really saying here in Matthew 7?

Well, the passage is not making a case against judgment per se. It is, rather, making a case against judgment which is condemning.

Keep in mind that Jesus was addressing a crowd which contained many Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day. These religious leaders did little else but condemn the behavior of others.

Note also, the passage speaks about being hypocritical (v. 5) and about being cognizant of your own faults first (vv. 3-4).

Rather than a command not to judge, Jesus is merely saying that we should always do so in a way that:

  • recognizes our own sin and
  • is restorative rather than destructive.

In other words, we should remember what Paul told the Galatians when we judge others:

“Brothers if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself lest you too be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1)


Welcome to my blog! Thanks for visiting.

I have been contemplating starting this blog since last August, and a special deal at my hosting company made it a reality.

Let me give you a little more information about me. I am a recovering Pharisee. Pharisees were a group of religious leaders that were around when Jesus was on earth. They were very religious, but they didn’t know God. The kept all the rules and even made rules up as they went along. They were hypocrites and generally looked down on all those less pure than they perceived themselves to be. And they perceived themselves to be very pure and righteous. Meaning the pretty much looked down on everyone around them.

Growing up I was the older brother in the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). I was the one who was good and kept all the rules. This meant that I never got into much trouble, but it also meant that I never had a fundamental understanding of grace. I believed Christianity was all about being good, nice, and keeping the rules – just like the Pharisees.

To see what Jesus thought about the Pharisees, simply read Matthew 23.

By God’s gracious intervention, He brought people and events into my life that taught me that Christianity was not about religion but about relationship. Ever since then I have been on a journey to leave behind the prisons I was in and begin to walk under God’s grace. I have come to know God now as my Father who is crazy about me.

My interests include (aside from Theology and Christianity), photography, writing, history (my major in college), tinkering with computers and other technology, reading, and, finally, studying about productivity. If you know what GTD is, I was GTD early on in 2002 when David Allen’s book was still in hardcover. (If you don’t know what GTD is, check it out on Wikipedia).

This blog will be where I will write about all things of interest to me. Stay tuned.