We all know the Pharisees were the religious conservatives of Jesus’ day. We also know that the word Pharisee is today a virtual synonym for hypocrite. The Pharisee is synonymous with the critical spirit, the person who has answers and feels compelled to always remind people that they know more, and do more, than anyone else in the church.

McCracken-147_4710-(2)_f The problem is that most of us never stop to find out where we might have become too much like the Pharisees. A few weeks ago I heard an excellent sermon in Plano, Texas, from my friend Rev. John McCracken (Trinity Presbyterian Church). John’s text was Luke 18:9-14 and his title was: “The Prayer God Won’t Answer.” John is an engaging, warm and solidly biblical preacher. He is very effective.

In the last part of John’s sermon he used an analogy of a car dashboard. He said we should pay attention when a warning light comes on and correct the problem under the hood. He asked, “How can I do a spiritual dashboard check and respond properly to the lights that come on in my heart if I pay attention?” He gave a list of several lights to watch for in terms of becoming a Pharisee. The first one was the most important and the one that hit me right between the eyes. Question: “How critical are you of others?” Ouch. I find it very easy to see your faults and miss my own. I find it a veritable pastime to flood light on people’s mistakes while I keep mine hidden in the closet. Another light John mentioned, that also struck me deeply, was this: “Don’t compare your life to others but always compare yourself to Jesus.”

I needed to check my dashboard and I am thankful my friend preached a sermon that was clearly aimed right at my heart. Thanks John!