One of the Ten Commandments is to respect the Sabbath. For the Jews, within that commandment were 39 other rules on how they should respect the Sabbath. The rules ranged from not allowing the harvesting of grains and the carrying of heavy load, to the manner of preparing food for the day.

But what made the Pharisees abominable was that they were using the commandment to impose suffering on the people. The Pharisees used the law to prove that they were holier than other people. That they were better because they fulfilled the law. This vigorous interpretation of the law was used by the Pharisees to condemn other people.

I believe there is a lot of phariseeism in us because in many ways it is apparent that we enjoy seeing other people suffer. We laugh when we see, in the movies or on television, scenes showing people being bumped or getting hurt. At the core of our easy laughter at the comic tragedy of other people is our self-righteousness. We smugly thank God that we are wiser and more intelligent than these careless people. This is why everybody likes
gossip. We are very fond of talking about other people’s weaknesses. We do not dare to talk of our own weaknesses. We enjoy destroying each other.

But how different are our ways from the ways of the Lord? I must tell you that if your joy or peace is only to be found in relation to the conditions of other people, then it is a very shallow peace. If you are content, if you are happy simply because you feel that you are better than the rest, there is something wrong with your notion of happiness. It is evident that your standards are human not Jesus. Jesus alone should be our standard. No matter what people say, if you are at peace with God or if you are doing God’s will, then you are doing what a Christian should do.

Let us pray, that our self-righteousness be diminished. That our hypocrisy be diminished. That our taking pleasure in other people’s sin be diminished. That our perverse joy in seeing other people suffer be taken away from us. When somebody gets hurt, we should also get hurt. When somebody is in trouble, we should consider ourselves in trouble.

Lord, pardon us for our hypocrisy. Pardon us for taking pleasure in seeing other people suffer. Pardon us for considering ourselves better than the others, because in Your presence, we are nothing. Lord, give us humility, give us an awareness that we are nothing before You.

Mt. 23:27-32
Only Jesus, Always Jesus


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