The Bible tells us of the Pharisees, a group of religious, elite legal experts who had the responsibility to teach others about the Law of God. But, the Pharisees had a hidden agenda, they appeared to be pious and devout; yet, they were corrupted by wealth and had the desire to oppress others. Because of their religious, social, and economic status, no one dared to question the oppressive religious rituals forced upon those who believed in the Mosaic laws.
Living a double-life was easily accomplished, the devout religious one that the public could see, and the secret life concealed from all but God. Full of pride and arrogance, the Pharisees always made sure that an audience could witness their acts of mercy, such as giving small amounts of money to the poor, or when they fasted, they twisted their faces to appear as if they were in extreme pain. Anointed as religious leaders, they despised the very individuals who desired to live according to God’s Word. The Pharisees possessed many biases and prejudices based on social standing, economic status, and ethnicity.
Interaction with ordinary people was limited to religious teachings in the synagogue. Because financial status and position determined the hierarchy of importance, they were relentless in their quest to make others suffer in the Name of God. You can do what you like, but not for as long as you want. Enter Jesus, who was human, yet Divine. He was aware of their secret sins and desires to use God’s Word to create a sense of hopelessness. Matthew 23 tells us that Jesus exposed and openly criticized the Pharisees:
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples. The teacher of religious law in the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they do not practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show. Matthew 23:1-5
Now we can understand why the Pharisees paid Judas 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. They were corrupt and hid behind religion to perform diabolical deeds to those already in the struggle of life. As I read the Words of Wisdom from Ellen G. White in the following Devotional, I prayed for God to give us a heart full of care and compassion for all individuals. As Believers, we must possess a character that resembles Christ, who mingled and ministered to all people.
Yes, we live in a world permeated and divided by social, economic, religious, and political differences. Still, we must examine ourselves for biases and prejudices. God created all of humanity in His image. If we believe and practice that concept, then we will not succumb to hatred. We will embrace the diversity that God has blessed us with and treat everyone as our neighbor. As we worship God, let us do our active part by welcoming those who are unloved, unwanted, and oppressed. It is up to us to alleviate the suffering of others. Have a blessed and peaceful Sabbath. © Sonya Johnson Ruiz RN 2020
Be Full of Compassion
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Psalm 112:4
Wherever there is an impulse of love and sympathy, wherever the heart reaches out to bless and uplift others, there is revealed the working of God’s Holy Spirit. In the depths of heathenism men who have had no knowledge of the written law of God, who have never even heard the name of Christ, have been kind to His servants, protecting them at the risk of their own lives. Their acts show the working of a divine power. The Holy Spirit has implanted the grace of Christ in the heart of the savage, quickening his sympathies contrary to his nature, contrary to his education. . . .
Christ is seeking to uplift all who will be lifted to companionship with Himself, that we may be one with Him as He is one with the Father. He permits us to come in contact with suffering and calamity in order to call us out of our selfishness; He seeks to develop in us the attributes of His character–compassion, tenderness, and love. By accepting this work of ministry we place ourselves in His school, to be fitted for the courts of God. . . .
By cooperating with heavenly beings in their work on earth, we are preparing for their companionship in heaven. “Ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation,” angels in heaven will welcome those who on earth have lived “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” In this blessed companionship we shall learn, to our eternal joy, all that is wrapped up in the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
Every act of love, every word of kindness, every prayer in behalf of the suffering and oppressed, is reported before the eternal throne and placed on heaven’s imperishable record.
© From My Life Today – Page 242 Ellen G White