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I'm Not Famous, But I Am Faithful
The Character of a Pharisee
We were introduced to the sect of the Pharisees in Matthew, Chapter 3, when John was baptizing at the Jordan, and calling the people to come and repent of their sins. And in our initial meeting with them, as they come to hear a wild man preaching remittance of sin beside a river bank, John himself calls the Pharisees "a generation of vipers."
It was the Pharisee sect that opposed the works and teaching of Jesus more than the Essenes, the Sadducees, the Herodians, the Scribes, or any other sect. The Pharisees would even team up with the other sects in order to gain the strength and support they needed to challenge Jesus, but they would never team up for long term relationships.
The Gospel of Matthew 23: 1-10,
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ.
What are the characteristics of a Pharisee?
First, I feel it important to give a brief definition of Pharisee. The Pharisees are defined as Hypocrites and Misguided Zealots. They are hypocritically self-righteous and condemnatory. The root word for Pharisee is " paras" meaning, to divide. So the name Pharisee means " The Separated Ones."
The Pharisees thought that they were better socially and intellectually, and more righteous religiously than most other people, and would have no dealings with people that they deemed to be illiterate, unrefined, or peasants. More often than not, when the Pharisees are mentioned in scripture, it is usually in regard to their faults. They demanded respect as teachers, but they never practiced what they taught. They demanded service from others, but they would never give a hand to help.They gloried in attention, seeking the praise of men more than the praise of God. In their piousness, they paraded their religion on their sleeves and on their foreheads in boxes called phylacteries, or scripture boxes. They loved their titles and positions, and always wanted the high places, or chief seats.
They were also known to glory in bodily cleanness according to the law, but their lives were of moral filth. They studied, knew and kept the law, and stressed all of the minor details of the law, yet they omitted the fundamentals of religion, love, mercy, and justice. They were zealous to win new converts to their sect, but not to God.
Jesus said, " Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."
"Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."
The Pharisees simply wanted to be " Famous."
God Honors Faithfulness, Faithfulness Honors God
1st Corinthians 4: 1-2,
" Let a man so account of us, as the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
In our religious system today, surrounded by a world in utter and complete chaos, we find men and women of God, who pride themselves on being known and exalted by men. We find shepherds who have become dictators according to their institutional structure, rather than stewards, being faithful to do the will of God in the earth. Shepherds who like the Pharisees of old, seek the praise of man, rather than the praise of God.
Jesus said, " Beware of false prophets, , which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
Today's religious system has produced shepherds who are much like the wolves in the wild, shepherds who run in packs. Each one determined to exalt himself. Each one wanting to be famous, instead of faithful.
The exhortation in the letter that Paul wrote to his son Timothy, while it spoke to the common man, it spoke more specifically and directly to the shepherds, those who are leading the flock in the house of God.
Paul said to Timothy, " Know this also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
Today every man and woman of God desires to be famous, to hob-nob with the elite of the Christian circles. To have their faces plastered on billboards dotting alongside interstate highways. To have hour-long radio shows, or thirty minute television programs, to have one church in three locations, each with it's own sprawling campus. To boast of the thousands on the rolls, or their schedules, which keeps them constantly flying from one end of the globe to the other.
After finishing the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus disrobed, wrapped himself in a towel, poured water into a basin, and washed the feet of his disciples. After putting His clothing on again, Jesus said to them, " Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
No shepherd should desire or endeavor to be famous, we should seek and strive to be faithful. God honors our faithfulness, and our faithfulness brings honor to God.
For the day is coming, even for shepherds, that the books will be opened, and we too will have to give an account of ourselves before God. Not one of us should want to run this race in vain, and in the end hear him say, "Depart from me I never knew you," and be cast into outer darkness, eternal damnation, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. We should all want to hear Him say, " Well Done, thy good and Faithful servant."
I'm not Famous, But I am Faithful.