How to spot a Pharisee

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I wonder if we realize how common the symptoms of a pharisee spirit are? They are very common!

We should not use this list to call other people out–that would be quite pharisaical–but for awareness in our own heart and thinking and responses; both to God and people.

Pharisees:

  • minimize and belittle other people, especially those they see as a threat
  • smug superiority because of family/birthright, title, position, education, bank account
  • quick to point out the mistakes and faults of others
  • harshly judge others–loveless, graceless
  • critical judge of others
  • work to catch others in mistakes
  • happy/gloat when others fall, and sometimes even…
  • create circumstances to make others fall, or…
  • create circumstances to make others look bad–as that throws attention off their own faults
  • politicking, gossiping, backstabbing to create division
  • hypocritically (deceptively) make rules for others with no intention of following themselves
  • honor with their lips, but don’t mean it in their heart
  • uncaring for people, yet very good at creating an illusion of care
  • use other people for their own gain
  • want to be first, special, important–have others think they are important
  • seek their own honor–yet very dishonoring of others
  • expect privilege instead of appreciating it
  • cliquey and elitist
  • practices snobbery
  • likes to be admired
  • carefully manages an image and reputation
  • looks right on the outside–have all the right things to say, clothes to wear, places to go, right friends; yet have a decaying rotten heart on the inside
  • manipulate others for their own gain
  • are controlling and abusive, yet can make it look like loving care (beware!)
  • set themselves up as competitors with others in the church
  • when the authentic turns up, they are confronted by it, then attempt to confine it, limit it, ruin its reputation, destroy it–if they can
  • mask their own unloving and selfish heart with smooth sounding, highly practiced speech. Their lips can drip warmth and hide what’s really in their heart
  • jealous, prideful, arrogant heart, wrapped up in self-importance and self-promotion
  • diva-mentality toward ministry, fueled by insatiable self-entitlement
  • self-righteously think they can do no wrong
  • puffed up with pride because of this sense of self-righteousness. (The more pride we have in our heart, the harder it is to become aware that it is even there and the harder it is to stay soft to God and people)

A quick read through the Gospel’s reveals these traits in the very people who thought nothing of challenging Jesus. Everywhere Jesus went, He was met with religious opposition to His authentic life of love and sacrificial service to God and people.

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