Justin Taylor had the following quote from Tim Keller’s book The Prodigal God.  He notes that how in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the eldest brother who stayed behind with the Father who was angry at his father for the way he treated his wayward son.  Many would think that in the story the father would call him a “whitewashed tomb,” (Matthew 23:27) or something akin to that.  But that wasn’t the case,

But he (the eldest son) was angry and refused to go in.  His father came out and entreated him, (Luke 15:28).

Keller writes:

[Jesus] is addressing the religious leaders who are going to hand him over to the Roman authorities to be executed. Yet in the story the elder brother gets not a harsh condemnation but a loving plea to turn from his anger and self-righteousness. Jesus is pleading in love with his deadliest enemies.

He is not a Pharisee about Pharisees; he is not self-righteous about self-righteousness. Nor should we be. He not only loves the wild-living, free-spirited people, but also hardened religious people, (pg. 75).

Let’s be careful not to become a Pharisee about people “being Pharisees.”  When we do we come off looking just as self-righteous as the people we are pointing our finger at.

3 comments
  1. A good point. I think that Reformed are often guilty of this. We can be self righteous about not being legalistic. Or self righteous about not being self righteous. I think in some form or another, we all may struggle with self righteousness in one area or another.

    It is a big problem in the Church. I also spend a lot of my time with home schoolers, who really can have a problem with this.

    And at the moment, I am just struggling so much with some that are looking so much down on me for letting my son get his ears pierced. This came the same week that he has told me he wants to Go to Trinity, and study youth ministry and music.

    How I got on that rant, I will never know. Time for bed.

    1. @Coleen Sharp, It is time for bed, but having been in bed for a few hours to no avail I finally got up and voila I see your comment.

      I think it’s Michael Horton that says that Reformed folks are the only ones who boast in their own depravity. Which is just wrong. I feel this post does apply to me when I get frustrated with legalism I see in the church over traditions, etc. But I also feel this from Christians who disagree with me when I talk about the wrath of God, as though I don’t believe in His love and mercy – which I obviously do.

      Have those people who are looking down on you talk to you about this at all? I can understand what you are going through when I was 17 my parents let me get my ear pierced. I had a relative on my dad’s side ask my parents if I were gay. Crazy. God cares more about the heart than the externals… I think it’s awesome that your son wants to study youth ministry and music. Now when he said Trinity, does he mean my alma mater, Trinity International Univ. or does he mean Trinity Christian College?

      1. @Shane Vander Hart, Your alma mater of course.

        My Grandparents went to Trinity. So did my mom, my sister, my Aunts, cousins, Great Aunts and Uncles and so on.

        I don’t want to offend anyone who may read this blog, so I am not going to be specific here about comments about what has been said.

        What I will say is this, some do it in a passive aggressive way. It has also become clear that within our home schooling group, it is sometimes done in the form of gossip. I run from that sort of judgmental gossip as much as I can. I hear about it sometimes though. I have seen it myself before, with comments like
        “I know they go to Church, but I don’t really know how serious they are about their faith.”
        or “Can you believe that they let their son do that?”
        or “They are Catholics, so it doesn’t surprise me.”

        And for the record, it is the Catholics at the home school group that show more love and grace. They pray with me, offer Biblical encouragement and so on. Just don’t tell any of my Presbyterian friends.

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