I have just finished reading the book, "12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me.)" This well written and researched book by John Fischer can be quite revealing. If you are brave enough to read a book that shows how pharisaical we have let ourselves become, then this book is for you.
We know in the days of Jesus' public ministry, it was the Pharisees that constantly followed close by, not intending to learn anything from the Lord, but to catch him doing something that violated the law or their traditions. The Pharisees were among the strongest religious leaders of the day, and their take on the historical teachings of the law, was the take everyone should accept. Jesus was quick to point out to them their rigid adherence to the law would sometimes be trumped by their traditions.
In the beginning, Fischer gets into the number one way many of us are like the Pharisees of the Bible, in that we like to judge others. We become the judge of others in a multitude of ways, including the driving habits of the man in control of car in the next lane, the checker figuring our bill at the department store, even our neighbor who waits so long between washing his car or cutting his grass. Since we have made ourselves to be experts at driving, knowing we can figure a bill faster than the clerk at the store, and the world's authority on how often cars should be washed and how short or tall grass should be, that means everyone around us doesn't pass our specifications of the perfection we claim to possess.
So that describes the Pharisees and their way of enjoying their position of judging others, but in that area it is very easy for us to be just as judgmental. Contrast all that with what Jesus had to say concerning judging others, in the Sermon on the Mount.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2
That is only one example of what is facing us if we choose to be judgmental. Jesus is telling us when we decide to assume the job of judging others, we better be ready to face the judge. Also, the same rules and standards we use in judging others, are the same for us when we are judged.
I can only imagine how irate the Pharisees became when they learned of Jesus' teaching about the matter. Does it upset you that you will be judged in the same way you have judged others?
Yes, even those in the church can become some of the most judgmental people around. We can be some of the most clever individuals when it comes to judging, because we, like the Pharisees, have grown to love it so much.
The key to overcoming a judgmental spirit is to follow the teaching of Paul in Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
That's something the Pharisees needed, and certainly something we need as well. If our Lord considered the prostitutes and tax-collectors worth teaching and extending his saving grace, that should speak volumes to us.