Are we training kids to be Pharisees or prosperous people? Lest I be accused of putting up a Straw Man argument, we’ll look at two other possibilities, first.
There’s the completely debase type of person that no thoughtful parent, teacher, pastor, or youth leader aims to produce. Then, there’s the truly perfect person with absolutely pure motives and no struggle with sin.
The latter type is unrealistic, except for the select few that rubbed shoulders with our Lord Jesus Christ while He walked this earth. So, really, there are just two basic types of kids that Christian parents and other spiritual leaders raise.
Of course, no one would actually say that they’re trying to raise a Pharisee, but in many Christian circles, that’s exactly what’s accomplished, and reasonably so.
What’s Wrong with Pharisees?
If our Lord could ever be described as harsh, it would be in the way He addressed the Pharisees. In Matthew 23:27, He calls them “hypocrites” and likens them to “sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Now, lest we think that the Pharisees were the only sinful people around, let’s consider a couple other clear teachings of Scripture:
- All of us are sinners (Romans 3:23).
- Our sin makes us spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-3)
- Christ came to save sinners (Matthew 9:13)
In many instances throughout the gospel accounts, we see Christ interacting with sinners, so the problem with the Pharisees was clearly not their sin. The problem was the apparently righteous façade they put up. The kind of pride that prompts that kind of thing repels a Holy God: James 4:6 says that “God resisteth the proud,” and Proverbs 28:13 clearly states that “he that covereth his sins shall not prosper.”
How Do We Train Pharisees?
Often, we do this inadvertently and with the best intentions. After all, don’t all Christian leaders desire to raise youth who meet these qualifications:
• Knowledgeable of Scripture
• Sexually Pure (and even somewhat naïve)
• Well-Behaved, Good Kids
Honestly, those are phrases I would use to describe some of the characteristics I want to see in my kids and other kids with whom I’m given opportunities for influence. But my point is this: Those objectives can’t be the main objectives. If they are, and we’re successful, the result will be a bunch of Pharisees.
Maybe we’re in denial about our own children’s sinfulness or maybe we’ve yet to come to grips with our own. If we seem to expect perfection, we’ll probably be met with either rebellion or devious, self-righteous pretenders that look a lot like Pharisees. Either way, I don’t think that’s really what we want.