I have read several books by Larry Osborne, pastor of NorthCoastChurch in California. I recently finished Accidental Pharisees, which sheds light on how Christians “accidentally” slide into prideful thoughts and actions. The book teaches about the danger of this mindset and cautions to guard our hearts against attitudes of exclusivity.
I learned afresh how much God hates pride. Pride can be easily downgraded as a “lesser sin.” Believers think being less prideful is something to work on but generally do not intentionally and aggressively root it out. We do not think that we are arrogant or inappropriately looking down on others. The book poses a searching question, “Is there a group of people or Christians for whom I’m developing disgust, distain, or aversion?”
Another important question to consider is what tempts us to feel superior. Usually this occurs when we are passionate about a cause or ministry, and we do not observe that same fire in others. Examples are justice, green living, and in-depth Bible study. In July, we learned through Psalm 139 that God has intentionally and uniquely designed each person. Of course it makes sense that even within a church, a variety of causes will grip our hearts. I was challenged by the statement that I should not judge the spirituality of others through the lens of God’s calling on my life. God calls each person differently. What matters is being obedient to what he has called me to do. Obedience is not deserving of special recognition; it is the ultimate duty of every Christian. I also appreciated the book’s reminder that God’s commands are beneficial, not burdensome.
Accidental Pharisees has brief chapters and was a rather quick read. It is a good title for growing Christians, since it prompts internal examination about attitudes towards others. Ultimately, actions reflect the heart, and I was convicted to recognize and repent of areas where a judgmental spirit has flared up. As we seek God’s perspective, the blessings of increased unity and renewed appreciation for his abundant grace will result.
Guest blogger: Allison Bies