And this is where we lose. This is where we now become dependent on an external measuring stick rather than an internal reality. This is where the Pharisee becomes real in our lives. You see when we’re not measuring up – we must beat those who are ahead of us so as to “catch up”. And if we’re ahead as we keep score, we become proud and condescending to others.
Read about some score keeping the Pharisees did in the Bible:
Matt 12:1-2 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” [We are good they are not based on what I do – we’re keeping score]
Matt 23:23 & 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” [You’re keeping score based on selfish prideful ‘doing of look at me' while the hurting are all around you. The outside is clean looking but inside – you’re rotting.]
Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this [a woman “sinner” is cleaning Jesus’ feet with her hair], he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” [score: Pharisee 1 Jesus & woman “sinner” 0 – A Pharisee would never go near sinners.]
John 9:15-17 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” [Rule keeping makes me good – rule breakers can’t do anything good. I keep rules to be good - even when salvation is happening. Rules are kept at all costs].
Do we see what is going on here? We look at ourselves and wonder, “Am I good enough, do I do enough?” When we look at our performance we take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on ourselves which leads to sinking. Peter's point of sinking in the water was when He took his eyes off of Jesus and put them on himself and the storm. He wondered "how am I doing?" He then went to the only Savior who could rescue him...Jesus.
The Gospel can no longer be the “good news” if the burden of performance goes from what Christ did to what I must do. That is not good news; that is not freedom; that is not having a yoke taken off of you and me but just the opposite. How can it be good news to anyone let alone me if I being shifted from one rule keeping system to another? His burden is light because He took off of us and put it on Himself!
The reality is Jesus came to set the captives free. Free from the tyranny of the law and measuring up which demands “we do” and gives us no power to do it. He set us free from the legalism of score keeping because our righteousness is not from my doing but from what Jesus already did. When we believe this truth… really believe this truth all score keeping stops because we finally get that nothing is from us but the sin we bring for the necessity of the cross.
Oh the irony - when we believe this - we actually behave better. More on this later.