You will never understand the heart of a Pharisee unless you realize that he sees the plank in his eye as belonging to others (Erwin Lutzer in Who Are You to Judge?)
From my 2016 Journal. I am a recovering Pharisee. I identify more with the law than with grace, with Martha more than Mary, with the big brother rather than the prodigal son, with self-righteousness over God’s righteousness. Had I been at the synagogue the day Jesus healed the crippled woman (Luke 13), I would have been the Pharisee condemning Jesus for working on the Sabbath. Self-righteousness is my continual default. I cringe when I read this verse:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: (Luke 18:9 NIV)
Thankfully, I’ve come a long, long way in shedding my Pharisaical robes, but I’m not there yet—and won’t be until I get to heaven. Whenever I think that I’m “better than” I’ve crossed the line into self-righteousness.
So, I explore this thought: If I choose the God path, does that make me superior to those who choose to resist God? My inner Pharisee says yes. But I know that is arrogance.
I am responsible for my own faith, my own choices, my own reactions and responses. I don’t know another person’s heart—not really. We are each accountable to our own master—be it God or Satan or money or pain. Since I’ve chosen God as my master, then I only answer to Him. It is not my job to judge another person’s choices or motives. I might know and recognize that they’ve chosen a poor master, and I can urge them to reconsider their choice, but they may be bound in chains and may not know that freedom is available to them. Why get upset and rage at them for not opening their eyes—when they are truly blinded by the god of this world and cannot see until the God of Heaven opens their eyes.
Lord, remove all stubbornness, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, and feelings of superiority from my heart. Give me the heart of the sinner who beat his breast and begged God for mercy.