Notes from the book, "12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)", by John Fischer
Step 3: We realize/admit that we detest mercy being given to those who, unlike us, haven’t worked for it and don’t deserve it.
The Pharisees could never accept that what they had worked so hard for, someone else could get for almost nothing, especially someone outside the boundaries of their cherished traditions. The Pharisees could not stand being put on the same level as everyone else. That is why they could not believe in Jesus. To believe in Jesus, they would have to give up their connection between work and pay. They would have to lose the whole system by which they had established their identity, their sense of worth, and their standing among men that they thought separated them from the scum of the earth.
God’s grace makes level ground. Pharisees always get what they bargain for; recovering Pharisees get more. Recovering Pharisees have learned to avoid comparing themselves to others and simply receive with a thankful heart what God gives them. God’s mercy pulls the rug out from under everything a Pharisee has worked for and prided himself in. Enter the wild and wacky and unpredictable—even unfair—mercy of God. God’s mercy puts everyone on the same level. The mercy of God is God’s business, and I have nothing to say about who gets it and who doesn’t except to be overjoyed that I, for reasons unknown to me, am one who does. Zech 7:8-10; Psalm 37:25-26; Matt 5:7; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Jam 1:23-25; 1 Joh 1:7-10;
There is only one way to cure this addiction to control that a Pharisee has:
to realize who God is and how beyond our control are His ways,
to see that the end of what we work for apart from Him is all without worth, and
to accept that there is nothing for us to measure except the immeasurable grace of God—no one to compare ourselves to but Christ.
Worship is a relinquishing of control. We are happy to find our place as His subjects, and we bow down and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness. This is when we are happiest, when God receives praise, not us. The closer we get to God, the more unworthy we feel and the more amazed we are that He accepts us and receives our praise and would actually want to use us to help achieve His purposes in the world. Our worth is also found in relinquishing control of our spiritual image or reputation. It is coming down off our spiritual pedestals and giving up the constant attempt to establish our value in comparison to others. Psa 139:21-22; Mark 7:3-4; Matt 20:1-16; 1 Cor 3:11-13;
If you have been given mercy, you don’t care who else gets it because you are just so thankful that you got it. But if you earned it, you care a lot. Luke 7:47-48; Matt 12:1-8;