4. Have decided that we don’t want to get what we deserve after all, and we don’t want anyone else to either.
Now that we’ve got what we do and don’t deserve sorted out, what about everyone else?
Remember the difference between Pharisees and recovering Pharisees is that Pharisees want to get what they deserve because they are working their way to heaven, and based on their efforts compared to the poor and mostly non-existent efforts of others, they believe they’ve got the kingdom of heaven pretty locked up. Recovering Pharisees, by contrast, don’t want to have anything to do with what they deserve, because they have come to the realization that what they truly deserve is to die for their sins. It’s a radical change in perspective.
And the perspective on others changes as well.
When you’re earning your way to heaven, you care who gets in and who doesn’t. You‘re working hard for this; you don’t want just anyone to get in. That’s why Jesus said the Pharisees like to stand at the gate of heaven, using the keys that were handed down to them by the law and the prophets to keep people out. But when you realize that no one is going to get into heaven because they deserve to be there, or they worked their way there, but solely because of God’s grace and mercy, and you realize that you have indeed become a recipient of that grace and mercy, it suddenly matters very little who else gets in. If I got in on God’s grace alone, who am I to keep anybody out? That’s how a recovering Pharisee thinks. Heck, God can invite anybody and everybody if He wants, and from the stories Jesus liked to tell about it, it sounds like the only one’s who don’t get in are the ones who falsely assumed they would. Things are truly not as they appear to be.
Because of this, one’s attitude toward the fate of others is a sure indicator of whether you are a Pharisee or just a recovering one.
Are you looking down on anyone? You’re a Pharisee.
Do you want bad things to happen to bad people? Pharisee.
Do you think there are people who deserve to go to heaven? Welcome to Club Pharisee.
Can you think of someone you would not want to see in heaven? Don’t look now, but you’re Pharisee is showing.
Can you think of people who are worse than you? Pharisee.
Do you want everyone to have what you have through Christ Jesus, without exception? Now there’s a recovering Pharisee.
Do you care who gets into the kingdom of heaven and who doesn’t? Whoops … There’s that Pharisee again.
Like that Whac-A-Mole game at the arcade, the Pharisee keeps popping up. A recovering Pharisee has to be quick with the mallet.
See how this works? I can think of a couple people right now I hope I don’t see in heaven, but when I think of myself without God’s grace, and I think of who they would be in God’s grace, it has a leveling effect.