Raising kids. Keeping House. Choosing joy, every day.

How To Raise A Little Pharisee


Q:How do you raise kids that love others well? 

You do that by modeling Christlikeness and by not living like a Pharisee.

You remember the Pharisees in the Bible, right? They had this outward show of religion. It was all about the outside–looking good, looking right, doing the right things. They had “I” problem.“I am not this way, I am not that way. Lord, thank you that I am not as these other men.”

A pharisee lives his life in a comparative, competitive state. 

Instead of comparing their life to God’s holiness, which yields humility, they compare themselves to others which yields pride and an inability to love others. (Pride always squelches love.)  They measured themselves against other peoples’ laws, rules, standards. They tried to go just a liiiiittttle bit farther to the right than the next guy. And then they gloated Thankfully, I am not like them.

What makes a person judgmental? They’ll compare themselves with another (only when they come out on top) to make themselves look or feel better or more “morally superior” to the person they are putting down.

One of the things that are an abomination to God are “haughty eyes.” Haughty eyes are connected to a haughty heart. And what goes on in a haughty heart ruminates in the mind. Here are the verses from Proverbs 6:

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

A Haughty Mother enter a room and assess everyone and everything. And they think to themselves(or God forbid, they say to their kids):

“I would never send my kids to that school.”

“Do you want to turn out like so and so?”

“Oh, We dress nicer than she does. My kids wouldn’t be caught dead in that.”

“Too bad she doesn’t keep her house just a little neater. I certainly wouldn’t live like this.”

“I can’t believe this church runs like this.”

“Those people are out to lunch!”

“Haughty mothers” pass on their haughtiness to their kids, and hence, they raise little pharisees.

Did you catch the other sins that are equally detestable to the Lord in Proverbs 6? Haughty eyes are in the same list as lying, an evil heart motive, murder and people who are troublemakers in churches.*

I was reading in Matt. 23 this morning, a list of “Woes” pronounced on the Pharisees of Jesus time. One thing that struck me is that a Pharisee is worried about two things:

  • 1. A Pharisee is worried about holding other people to their standards.
  • 2. A Pharisee is worried about “looking” righteous. (they aren’t actually righteous inside, Jesus said. Inside, they are a dirty mess.)

A Pharisee never comes to the conclusion that loving another person “as Christ loved us” is what Christ really valued. Even though one of the last commands Jesus gave to his disciples on earth was this “new commandment, to love one another as I have loved you.” They still insist that their inward love for others is not as important as external things.

Jesus tells us that the world will know His followers by their love for the brethren. A Pharisee interprets love for God as doing things to be seen by men. (Matt. 23)


How do you raise a little pharisee? By acting like the Pharisees of Matthew 23!

What did they do?

1. Preach hard standards that they didn’t  keep themselves. Their life and lips didn’t match. They were super vocal about what others should be doing, but didn’t do it themselves. (Matt. 23:4)

2. Do their works to be seen of men. (Matt. 23:5)They do religious activities for the wrong reason. When they speak, they speak to be the big shot or in charge. They love the spot light, recognition and an audience. When they tithe, they make a big show of that. When they fast, they make sure they look sick and weak, so that when someone asks, Are you ill? They can quickly reply, “Oh no, I am going on day 3 of fasting and praying.” When they serve, they make sure everyone knows how exhausted they are “serving the Lord.”

3. They expect special treatment. They love the uppermost rooms at feasts and the chief seats, the greetings in the marketplace, to be called Rabbi.” They love their position and expect that you respect them. And not just any old respect that is earned by a good testimony…they want celebrity treatment. They want to be seen and heard…and obeyed. All in front and up front, the more visible the better. Expectations for special treatment for yourself are always rooted in pride.

4. They focus on the wrong things, and ignore the “weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. ” (Matt. 25:23) They are worried about your sin, and ignore that fact that they are neglecting key elements of God’s word: truth, mercy, faith.

5. They worry about the outside, when they should be concerned about their ungodly heart. Verse 27,28 describes their heart as Jesus sees it and it “ain’t pretty”:  “full of extortion and excess…you are like whited sepulchers which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead mens bones. You outwardly appear religious, but within you are full of hypocriscy and iniquity.”

Outwardly, doing all good things. Inwardly, wicked.

Outwardly concerned with being at every church service and “over my dead body” would I miss a Wednesday night service, but inwardly, they hate or look down on their brothers/sisters in the church, are judgmental and critical of others and are usually involved in long standing feuds and divisions. Their mouths are full of gossip, spite and envy. The only thing they hold tighter than their perfect church attendance record is their smoldering grudges against others. They think that wearing certain clothes or not wearing certain clothes is equivalent to godliness, when all the while, God says that the way that all men will know you are mine is to LOVE YOUR BROTHERS in the church.{albeit, they are very flawed an imperfect brothers, but if you love God, you’ll love His church.}

And the list goes on and on.

If you want the world to know that you are one of God’s disciples, and if you want your kids to learn to love others properly, why not try God’s way? Why not love the brethren? And the love is qualified–it has to be “as I have loved you.”

 How did Christ love us?

1. We were pursued. But a pharisee refuses to move towards an offending person in love. They’ve offended ME, let THEM make the first move.

2. We were forgiven. But a pharisee rarely forgives because they’ve never truly been forgiven themselves. They don’t understand this grace. They keep loooong lists of wrongs against people and loves to share them with others. They can’t wait to make a little dig, take a stab or outright give someone the silent treatment when they feel offended. (they never see this as sin, mind you. They have the right to do this in their mind. Their “way” has been crossed and this gives them the right.)

3. We were served. But a pharisee only cares about being served. They have a celebrity mindset instead of a servant mindset.

4. We were made the object of love, though undeserving. You might have noticed that the “church” as a whole is not entirely lovable. In fact, the church is a group of believers that has problems. We all do! And yet, God loved us, not because we are so lovable, but because God is love and that is that. It is His character. A pharisee only loves those who love them and those they deem “worthy.” We need to love because we are now sons of God and have His nature in us.

Love begins with a vertical relationship first: you and God. Then your horizontal people to people relationships become what they are supposed to be. If you don’t love others or have a grudge in your heart against someone, let me warn you not to deceive yourself. You don’t love God if you don’t love others, plain and simple. The amount of love you have for your “least favorite person” is also an indicator of how much you love God.

You cannot love others well, until you love God well. Your children cannot love others well without loving God more than anything else. This love is what enables us to keep his commandments. This love keeps us focused on him instead of on the faults of others.

The default “carnal” setting in our hearts is to  act like a pharisee because it is easier to point fingers that to deal with the wickedness in our own hearts. Truly, the greater work, the harder life is to deal with our own miserable, deceitful hearts. That should keep us so busy, that there is very little time for pointing fingers.

Are you modeling the true Christian life and love in your home, or are you modeling the life, lips and heart of a Pharisee? Your answer alone will tell you how you are raising your kids. 


*{But there is a flip side to the Pharisaical Haughty Spirit (PHS) and that is the Licentious Haughty Spirit. (LHS) With LHS, you gloat inside because you are not like these Pharisees. No, you are informed, well educated and Biblically sound. You have insight. Problem is, the same heart remains. That man-to-man comparison sin-thingie. In your knowledge, perhaps you have forgotten that God still hates haughty eyes…even well informed ones. Knowledge puffs a person up, but love edifies another. I appreciated this article about Reverse Legalism and you might, too.}