All the works they do they do to be viewed by men; for they broaden the scripture-containing cases that they wear as safeguards, and enlarge the fringes of their garments. They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the marketplaces and to be called Rabbi by men.” (Matt. 23:5-7)
The Pharisees prided themselves on being righteous,and they looked down on the common people.
The Phariseess sought to impress others by public displays of their righteousness. They desired prominence and flattering titles.
Contrast their attitude with that of sage Jesus. […]he was humble. When a certain man called him “good,” Jesus said: “Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God.” (Mark 10:18) On another occasion, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, thereby setting a pattern of humility for his followers.
This self-righteousness figures in one of Jesus’ parables. He said: “The Pharisee stood and began to pray these things to himself, ‘O God, I thank you I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give the tenth of all things I acquire.’ But the tax collector standing at a distance was not willing even to raise his eyes heavenward, but kept beating his breast, saying, ‘O God, be gracious to me a sinner.’”—Luke 18:11-13.
Jesus praised the tax collector’s humble attitude, saying: “I tell you, This man went down to his home proved more righteous than [the Pharisee]; because everyone that exalts himself will be humiliated, but he that humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14) Although tax collectors had a reputation for dishonesty, Jesus sought to help those among them who listened to him. At least two tax collectors—Matthew and Zacchaeus—became his followers.
What if we were to think that we are better than others because of our God-given abilities or privileges or because of the failures and weaknesses of others? We should quickly dismiss such thoughts: for the Scriptures say: “Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth.”—1 Cor. 13:4-6, The New English Bible. ~ excerpts: Watch Out for the Leaven of the Pharisees
(Pursuing humility in spirituality is not self-righteousness on display to be lauded/praised by men.)
The Bible sometimes uses “leaven,” or yeast, as a symbol of corruption. No doubt both the teachings and the attitude of the Pharisees had a corrupting effect on their listeners.
Questions for Meditation:
Do I seek to lay down arbitrary, inflexible rules or to turn my personal opinions into law? Am I reasonable in what I expect of others?