In the last couple of years, we all have had our emotions thinned out a bit. Issues have risen to the surface that might have been held in check in previous seasons. As a result, a lot of people have become touchy. They are touchy about a wide variety of subjects, but most of all, they get touchy when they think someone is living in contradiction to their understanding of how or where someone would choose to express their faith.
A group of Pharisees and teachers of religious law confronted Jesus and asked why His disciples were disobeying the age-old traditions of religious law. Instead of addressing their issue head-on, Jesus challenged His accusers for their treatment of their parents. It wasn’t a warm and affirming challenge. The Lord said, “You hypocrites” and then He unpacked their hypocrisy without pulling any punches.
A verse that follows that discourse reveals the disciples coming to Jesus and saying, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” (Matthew 15:12). Offense in this verse has been interpreted to represent someone who is so displeased, that they become indignant revealing their indignation by anger or annoyance. In other words, they were touchy.
While it is typical for us to define a Pharisee as someone else, the truth is we all have a personal Pharisee living somewhere in our hearts. That personal Pharisee comes to the surface when our traditions have been challenged. I am not referring to biblical truth, but what we do with the truth when we reinterpret it and call it a law and demand other believers obey the dictates of our interpretation of reality.
The Pharisees added to the real Law to make it the restrictive and burdensome monstrosity it was never intended to become. We can do the same with the grace of God when we see it through the blurred lens of our limited understanding and declare our view as the only acceptable Christian witness. When someone comes along and lives or speaks in a way that contradicts our personal law, we get touchy.
The next time your hackles are raised, and you get touchy because another believer is applying their faith in violation of your traditions, put down your phone or move away from your keyboard and pause for a moment. In the pause, the Lord may have something to say to that little mean-spirited Pharisee who wants to pound out a confrontation that will do little to advance God’s Kingdom or build meaningful relationships.