My Pharisee-heart

Whitney Capps

Day: 22 | Plan: Luke

Today’s Reading: Luke 16

Luke 16:14-15 (NIV) The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.’”

Have you ever sat in church, heard a sermon and thought, “That’s not me. I don’t do that”? Or tried to defend your behavior by thinking, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as so-and-so”? I’ve had both those slippery thoughts, and they can quickly lead to the dangerous place of self-justification.

That’s what is meant by the word “sneer” in today’s key verse. The Pharisees sneered at Jesus after He told a parable to illustrate the corrupting power of money and influence. Jesus closes the parable saying, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).

Not only do the Pharisees sneer at Jesus, but they disregard or mock His lordship. It’s rarely good to be in the same camp as the Pharisees and sadly, I’ve been in that camp before. Unfortunately, this passage revealed my Pharisee-heart.

These Pharisees wanted to justify themselves in order to appear righteous or holy. This was their real idol. Money was a symptom, but the real sickness was the idolatry of appearance or pride. They cared about appearing righteous more than actually being righteous. This is idolatry.

Jesus says it this way, “what people value highly is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15b). This phrase “value highly” means to exalt and esteem. Money isn’t detestable to God. Being consumed by money, what it affords and how it makes us appear to others is detestable. Money is a sacrifice we make on the altar of self.

Money, like so many other passions, can become an idol. God detests idolatry. God detests pride. God hates it when we prop up our holiness on the failures of others. When we turn our noses up at truth and think, “not me.”

Truth always has the power to transform us. How do we respond to hard truth in Scripture? Do we sneer like the Pharisees? Turn our nose up and think of a dozen other people and things worse than we are? Do we try to justify our behavior so we don’t seem all that bad? Do we mock the lordship of Jesus and His authority to put His finger on sin in our lives? This is a hard truth from a hard passage. I’m far too much like the Pharisees. That’s a truth that needs to transform me. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your truth is always meant to transform me. I wish my heart would be more willing to receive that truth. I confess that I often try to justify or excuse my behavior. Transform my Pharisee heart and help me see my sin rightly. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

Later in Luke 16 we find an interesting parable about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The... Read More

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