Modern day Pharisees?

From the start let me say that I love Facebook and Twitter.

I love the idea of sharing what I like and don’t like with my friends and family via the internet. I think it’s a wonderful concept and I don’t intend to stop doing it. This post isn’t even about necessarily that, but I just wanted to make it clear just in case my rantings get misconstrued.

What I really want to address is some of the things we do with Facebook and Twitter, and if they relate to some of things that Jesus warns about in His sermon on the mount.

I’ve been on FB & Twitter for several years now and I would say I have a fair amount of connections to people all across the world (currently 1,085 “friends”), including Christians, non-Christians, ministers, pastors, preachers, saints, etc. This has given me the opportunity to observe over time an ever-growing trend that has developed especially among those that are more heavily involved in ministry and churches in general.

One major desire that all humans have in common is a desire to feel cared about and significant. We want to know that someone actually cares about us, or that someone cares about what we’re doing in our life. That’s completely normal. That’s one reason why FB & Twitter are so wildly popular – it gives all of us a feeling of worth; that someone cares enough about my life to connect with me and pay attention to what I do everyday (or they at least pretend to).

I don’t think it’s wrong to post your accomplishments and things you have done personally on these sites, I do it all the time. I want people to know just how AWESOME I am! We all want that sense of pride, I dare say we NEED that sense of pride to some degree.

However, when it comes to bragging on FB & Twitter about when we pray and the fast we just finished, I begin to wonder something: Are we as Christians developing modern day Pharisee behavior? Let me explain.

In Matthew 6, we jump right into Jesus’ sermon on the mount and He says:

1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (NKJV)

Jumping down a bit….

16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

The Pharisees made it clear to anyone who would pay attention that they were “holy” and that they were praying and fasting. That’s what Jesus is addressing in these passages. Whatever glory we get from men in response to our displaying what we do spiritually, that’s the only benefit we’re going to receive. That completely negates the purpose of prayer and fasting!

Obviously our cultures are different nowadays than back in the times of Jesus. We don’t have street corners that we strut around on in our robes and display our holiness (we do that in the churches, duh!), but we do have FB & Twitter. Are they not public forums for which all can observe our activity and behavior? Does it not have the same effect?

So I ask thisdo we negate the good our prayer and fasting is supposed to do when we share it publicly on social media sites? Is there really any difference between that and what the Pharisees used to do?

I’m not condemning anyone – just a question to ask yourself. Not a sermon, just a thought 🙂

(For the record, I am not referring to sharing a testimony of what God has done for someone’s life. There’s a difference between giving God glory and glorifying yourself.)

3 thoughts on “Modern day Pharisees?

  1. “Whatever glory we get from men in response to our displaying what we do spiritually, that’s the only benefit we’re going to receive. That completely negates the purpose of prayer and fasting!”

    Like that statement! Really good stuff and I totally get where you are coming from.

  2. We have a fasting list up on the bulletin board at church and our pastor has asked us to make sure that somebody is fasting every day from church. He says that you don’t have to put your name, just a check mark is fine to mark your day. That’s fine for some – but for me…I fear being prideful even with a check mark – or that somebody will see me and that will become my reward. Pride sneaks up on me fast.

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