“All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”
The Pharisees are often looked down upon by the Christian because of their hypocrisy, and their desire to see Jesus killed. When you look at the actions of the Pharisees, they were a very pious people who often felt that their works were more important than the intents of their heart. However, Jesus told His disciples that they could learn from the Pharisee. He told His disciples to “observe” what the Pharisee told them to do, “but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” Jesus understood that what the Pharisees said was right, but it was their inaction to do what they told others to do that was wrong. Let me point out several lessons that Jesus taught about the Pharisees that can teach you how to be a better Christian.
First, actions are always better than words. The Pharisees were very good about telling others what to do, but they never followed through with the same actions. A believer must be careful about having a knowledge of what to do, but no performance of that knowledge. A knowledge of right without a performance of right are the makings of a hypocrite. It is important to know what to do, but it is just as important to do what you know. God doesn’t give you the knowledge of right just to tell others to do what you won’t do; God gives you the knowledge of right so you can be an example to show others what to do.
Second, don’t ask someone else to do something you aren’t willing to do. The Pharisees were very willing to give others duties to perform that they would never do themselves. It is critical that you don’t become guilty of telling others to do things that you would never do yourself. If you tell others to be a soul winner, then you ought to be a soul winner. If you tell others to be faithful to church, then you ought to be faithful to church. If you tell others to live a certain way, then you ought to live in the way you tell others to live. You should never give someone a task that you are not willing to put your own hands to the same task. In fact, it is better that you have first performed the task yourself before you ask others to do it.
Third, do works because they are right to do and not because you will be recognized. The Pharisees were known for doing something if they were recognized for what they did. My friend, you should serve the LORD, not because you will be recognized, but you should serve the LORD because it is right to serve the LORD. If the only time you serve the LORD is when others are watching, your service to the LORD is a mere mirage. Stop doing things because others are watching and start doing right because the LORD is watching.
Fourth, serve the LORD to please Him and not to earn position or title. The Pharisees were very keen on positions and titles. One of the best lessons you can learn from the Pharisees is that you should forget about helping others because you might earn a position, and help or serve others so you can be a blessing to them. You will never be disappointed with serving others if your purpose of service was to help and not to earn the applause or recognition of men. Positions and titles should be a reward of doing right and serving others in the shadows and not a result of showmanship or inheritance. You will discover the joy of Christianity if you serve others simply to meet their needs.