We’ve all done it. We’ve all done it recently. We will all do it again. What am I talking about? We will all hear a message that applies to us, and apply it to someone else instead. We think, “So-and-so needs to hear this,” or, “This would be a perfect message (book, tape, CD, quote, seminar, sermon, song, etc.) for such-and-such,” and in the process, we deflect the part of that message that very well could have been meant for us. It’s the great “duck-’n’-run” move. It’s the way we keep on perpetuating the same problems and dysfunctions — we keep on diverting to others what was meant for us.
When we first came out with this book, 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee, I wanted to put a sticker on the front: “Buy this book for someone you know who needs it!” — an obvious denial of Step 5. In fact, this is precisely why we added “(like me)” to the title, to implant the idea that this first of all applies to me.
It’s not that we are never to confront or rebuke someone; it’s that we must be careful to rebuke ourselves first.
We are with Chandler this weekend and an emotionally traumatic thing has occurred in his life into which I feel compelled to speak. And as I go over the things in my mind I want to tell him, I pray that he is able to understand what I am saying, and will recognize and grasp what is true and wise about it, but, at the same time, I need to make myself vulnerable to the same truth. How am I doing with this myself? And if, in that process of self-examination, I find my own struggle, then good. That will make me talk about what I want to tell him from a more vulnerable place, which will make him less defensive, and more prone to hear what I am saying.
How does the saying go — for every time you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you?
I’m curious how many of you have already written off this series because you are convinced you are not, nor ever will be, a Pharisee. If you’ve had those thoughts, I suggest you do some real soul searching and go over all these steps (that’s why we continue to list them all in the right column) and honestly ask yourself if any of this applies to you. The Pharisee Jesus called on the carpet was the one who was convinced he was not like the sinner crying out for mercy. Could not the sinner be equally rebuked, at a later date, for thanking God that he was not like the Pharisee? We all have to be careful here. If you hate Pharisees, you need to look hard for the Pharisee in you.
That’s one of the more difficult things about judging. We can very easily fall into judging people for their judgmental attitudes which makes us just as guilty as they are, and twice as blind. I am constantly catching myself in a judgmental attitude toward judgmental Christians. I hate judgmental Christians. Well what is that? Look who’s talking. If all I do is hate people who hate, how am I making the world any better?
In case you wonder about my session with Chandler, it went very well. As Marti says, he’s an old soul. In many ways he is an adult in a 16-year-old body, capable of grasping what many kids his age rarely even think about. He amazes me. I also think his acceptance and consideration of my message to him had something to do with how I delivered it.
I started this Catch out with: “We will all hear a message that applies to us, and apply it to someone else instead.” Be sure you don’t do that with this Catch.