A precious friend messaged me today to share a story about some advice I had given years ago. I chuckled that something I had mentioned and over time had forgotten would have stuck with her.
What I had said was, “Never argue with a Pharisee.”
The more I have reflected on this today, the more I found truth in my statement, even years later. During the time of Jesus and His ministry, there were many who would ridicule His actions, many who would embrace His teachings, and many who focused on how it impacted them personally. The Pharisees were in this last group.
The Pharisees were religious leaders, yes. They knew the Law as handed down by Moses, but they also liked being upheld as the righteous ones. Problem was, they were often self-righteous. Not at all the same as the righteousness taught in Scripture.
The Greek word for Pharisees is Phariaios, which means “separate ones.” Paul, the Apostle, even described it as being the strictest sect of his religion (Acts 26:5). In their desire to be faithful to their beliefs, the Pharisees lost sight of Who they said they believed in and why they were choosing to be separate. The desire to be right should never be confused with the desire to be righteous before a Holy God.
Arguing with a Pharisee just makes your tongue sore and your brain tired; something Jesus never did. He spoke the truth and left it there to defend itself. He did not have to point out facts, appeal to the emotional side of the listeners. He spoke the truth because He was the Truth (John 14:6). The Pharisees wanted the attention away from Jesus, so they appealed to the emotions of their first century audience.
It isn’t that they were terrible, it is that they missed the point. Jesus’ ministry was to complete the Law of Moses, not tear it apart. When we miss the message in front of us, we miss the opportunity beside us.
Which is exactly what the Pharisees did. They missed the opportunity to join Jesus in His ministry and share how His presence on Earth completed the Laws of the Old Testament. What kind of impact would have been made during the first century if they had joined instead of argued?
Best Beloved, I do not pretend to know what your life is like, I do know Jesus does. Don’t allow those who want to argue for argument sake get in the way of the Truth being spoken. Let our lives be an anthem of the Truth of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (see Philippians 3:1-11).