We’re Christians. That means we just have to love on everyone. Right? “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” True. But. There are actually two types of people that God gives us permission to avoid. They both look like believers and talk like believers and act like believers, but they are not believers. Their favorite hang out is the church, but they are not sheep. They are toxic.
One type is talked about at great length in Proverbs in the Old Testament, and we find the other type in the gospels of the New Testament. I’ve been thinking a lot about them lately. Comparing and contrasting them. I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you because I think God highlighted them in His Word for a reason. I think He wants us to notice them and eradicate any hints of their kind of sin from our lives. I think He also wants us to avoid them, period. We can’t avoid them if we can’t recognize them.
First, how about some definitions:
Book to read: Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne. (“Accidental” because Osborne is writing to Christians who “accidentally” fall into the sin of the Pharisees.)
- Compare themselves to others.
- Raise the bar to keep the less spiritual out.
- Make extra rules to ensure proper obedience to God’s Word.
- Idolize the past.
- Seek uniformity.
- Fail to bear with others.
- Envious of the gifts of others.
- Inspire guilt in themselves and others.
Book to read: Foolproofing Your Life by Jan Silvious
- Closed minded.
- Hard hearted.
- Spiritually empty.
- Always “right” and never “wrong.”
- Trust themselves alone.
- Satisfied with themselves.
- Refuse to change.
- Angry. (May not always show it outwardly, but can be passive aggressive)
- Create chaos and fighting.
- Cause destruction.
- Make the same destructive choices over and over and over. They never learn from their mistakes.
- They enjoy their foolishness.
The Common Threads
It’s interesting to see how much they have in common. Put the word “Prideful” after each line, and in most cases it fits there. Pride is at the heart of all sin, so that makes sense. Pride is thinking we know better than God. Self on the Throne.
Also, I think “Controlling” works for both types too. They want to control other people to suit their agendas. They think in terms of power.
“Deceptive” fits in both categories as well. Pharisees clean the outside of the cup, hiding the garbage inside; fools deceive others to create confusion and pain.
How Do We Relate to Fools and Pharisees?
Relating with Pharisees
How did God relate? Jesus walked on the earth and talked to Pharisees. What did He say? To those who were sincerely seeking (Nicodemus) He gave of His time and wisdom. He had no time for the rest. When they asked Him questions, He gave brief, pointed answers and moved on. Sometimes He said a lot of really mean things to them. Here’s just a sampling:
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:46-47)
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:13-15)
Jeepers, it sounds like Jesus wasn’t as impressed with them as they were of themselves. That means we don’t need to be impressed either. Not when we see it in others, and not when we see it in ourselves. I love that we have freedom to walk away. We don’t have to bow to the religious elite. We don’t bow to those who set themselves up as more holy than others because they keep more rules than others. We bow only to King Jesus. We are holy and righteous because His blood covers the doorpost of our heart. Not because we went to church on Sunday. (And no, I’m not saying this is an excuse to live like the devil. Shall we continue in sin that Grace might increase?)
Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man “unclean;” but eating with unwashed hands does not make him “unclean.” (Matthew 15:19-20)
Relating with Fools
I’m sure there were plenty of fools Jesus ran into as well, but the book that tells us how to define and relate to fools is Proverbs. Here are a few tips on how to spot one (no assuming necessary – just trust that what God says is true:)
“…fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (1:7)
“For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.” (1:32)
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” (12:15)
“...the folly of fools is deception.” (14:8)
“Fools mock at making amends for sin.” (14:9)
“…a fool is arrogant and careless” (14:16)
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (18:2)
“…a fool repeats his folly.” (26:11)
“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,” (28:26)
Do you know someone like that? Most of us probably know a fool, so how do we relate to them? Here are some guidelines:
“When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest” (Proverbs 29:9)
In other words, you can’t resolve conflicts with this kind of person. There is “no rest.” And notice, it is THE WISE MAN who can’t resolve the conflict. So if you feel like it is somehow your fault for not being able to get to the bottom of anything with your fool EV. ER., take heart in this verse! Even wise people can’t get anywhere with a fool. You’re in good company.
“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
God is giving us a clue here. If you hang with one of these types, you’ll suffer harm. That word actually means “Destroyed.” I take this to be a serious warning: STAY AWAY and avoid destruction.
“You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong…. because of my enemies— make straight your way before me. Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction.” (Psalm 5:4-5)
I think this is telling us that God is on our side. He is not on the side of the arrogant and the unrepentant. He opposes the proud. This means we can turn to God and put our hope in Him. He doesn’t expect us to hang out with them, trust them, and share pearls.