Tea & Truth

Finding Freedom from Pharisaical Fears

Jul 30, 2018

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You know what one of my fears in life is? Becoming so focused on learning the Bible that I forget to apply it. I know it’s impossible for me to learn everything in the Bible and about the Bible or to figure out every mystery in its pages. Also, I don’t plan on becoming fluent in ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic in my lifetime. And I’m actually very glad that I can’t fully comprehend God, or He would seem less powerful to me.

Knowing that I can’t learn everything about the Bible this side of heaven doesn’t stop me from studying it, though. How else am I supposed to get to know God, His character, and how to glorify Him? But if that’s where my devotion ends, then I’ve missed the big picture.

In Matthew 23, Jesus is talking to the scribes and Pharisees. They were all about learning the law, yet Jesus scolded them, “Woe to you, hypocrites!” Reading that with the exclamation point makes me jump in my chair. But, hey, He got my attention! He charges them with omitting the “weightier matters of the law,” such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Oops!

Our faith isn’t just one big ideology. It’s one of action. But not in keeping the letter of the law. Second Corinthians 3:6 tells us that God “hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
And if we don’t take action, God says our faith is dead (James 2). As good as dust. That’s pretty heavy. So, how do we keep the spirit of the law?

Three things stand out to me:
   1. Love God
   2. Love others
   3. Share the Gospel

Why these three? Well, an ill-intentioned lawyer unknowingly did the rest of us a favor when he asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the law was. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus responded:
   Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
   and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
   And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
   On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Two for the price of one! And the third – sharing the Gospel – comes from Jesus’s Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). The Great Commission is found in three of the four Gospels as well as the book of Acts. Since it’s repeated so often and because it’s the last thing Jesus said before He ascended into heaven, that strikes me as making it pretty important.

You know what stands out to me about these three things? They’re all others-focused. My life isn’t about earning salvation through following the law. Christ already paid that price for me. And as evidence of that, I’m called to love God, love others, and share the Gospel.

I need to ask myself on a daily basis, “Am I living out my faith? Am I actually living like the Christian I claim to be? Or am I allowing myself to live status quo because I’ve ‘done enough’?” Christ didn’t call me to be mediocre. He called all believers to radical lives of love as His ambassadors.

And my pharisaical fears? As long as I’m letting the Holy Spirit renew my mind, I have nothing to fear. Instead I can find freedom by letting go of all my worries at the foot of the cross and trusting that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

What about you? Are there any fears holding you back from living a radical life of love as Christ’s ambassador?

Jessie Chamberlain
Family Radio Staff

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