Since spending time with Larry Osborne in June I have been eagerly expecting his latest book, Accidental Pharisee. It was released earlier this month and I was thrilled to receive my copy just days ago. So far, the book has met my high expectations. Larry has the rare gift of explaining complex themes in a way that is obvious and engaging. This latest offering of his focuses on how well meaning believers can actually become enemies of grace. The excerpt below is his neat description of how this unintended trouble takes place:
“So you step out in faith. You make some big changes. You clean up areas of sin and compromise. You add new spiritual disciplines as you excitedly race off toward the front of the following-Jesus line.
But as you press forward, it’s inevitable that you begin to notice that some people lag behind. And it’s at this point that your personal pursuit of holiness can morph into something dangerous: a deepening sense of frustration with those who don’t share your passionate pursuit of holiness.
This is the critical juncture.
If you allow your frustration to turn into disgust and disdain for people you’ve left behind, you’ll end up on a dangerous detour. Instead of becoming more like Jesus, you’ll become more like his archenemies, the Pharisees of old, looking down on others, confident in your own righteousness.
That, of course, is a terrible place to be.
But actually it can get worse.
If you continue farther down the path of contempt for those who fail to keep up, you’ll end up in a place of arrogance. Fewer and fewer people will measure up to your definition of a genuine disciple. Inevitably, being right will become more important than being kind, gracious, or loving. Thinning the heard will become more important that expanding the kingdom. Unity will take a backseat to uniformity.
And your metamorphosis will be complete. You will have arrived at a place you never intended to go. You’ll be a full-fledged Pharisee. Accidental, no doubt. But a Pharisee nonetheless.”
I hate seeing myself so accurately pegged. Too often, I am proud of God’s accomplishments in my life as though they were mine. May God continue to humble you and me. Let not pride rob us of grace and compassion. Please Jesus, stay first in our place of praise.