One of my worst fears is becoming a Pharisee. I'm prone to pride. I know the Bible pretty well and at times it can be easy for me to feel like I have it all figured out. I can easily get way too hung up on my head knowledge and leave out the heart and devotion of following Jesus.
Pharisees were the religious leaders in Jesus' day. They were well educated, prideful, and great at following rules. In fact, they were so prideful in their education and rule-keeping that many of them missed the boat when it came to Jesus. They were too hung up on how great they were at following God's law to see God's promised Savior.
Jesus said some savage things to the Pharisees. He called them a "brood of vipers". I don't know anyone who wants to get close to a viper. In fact, they're dangerous and can kill you. That probably wasn't a compliment coming from Jesus there. He warned them a lot and even said they were the ones preventing Him from gathering in Israel.
Can I be real for a second? I often can see myself as a Pharisee. It requires a heart check for me very frequently. The Pharisees were prideful and pride is never painted in a good light in the Bible.
Last night I gave a short message to students for our last night at Radicle (VBS). I didn't use any notes, but just shared the gospel through the parable of "The Prodigal Son". I'd been studying some on my own about this parable so it felt familiar enough to me to just go off the top of my head. After it was over, I felt like I did a really good job. I felt really prideful. This terrifies me.
Pride comes before a fall. We've all heard it. Pride should scare the daylights out of us. The Bible tells us the meek inherit the kingdom of heaven. People who are humble are the blessed ones. The last shall be first. Christ came as a servant of all.
When I'm prideful, I'm stealing glory from the One who deserves it all. God is the big deal. He's the one the story is all about and He knows it. He doesn't take well to His creatures trying to take from Him what is rightfully His.
In the greatest act of humility, Jesus left heaven and took on human flesh. He lived among sinners and was wrongfully accused and killed. He took God's wrath for sin and rose again so that He could receive all glory, honor, and praise! He showed what true humility looks like. When I'm prideful, I'm very unlike Jesus.