Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6
You may remember when you were a child how your parents told you that who you associate with will become who you imitate? Another popular phrase when I was young was that “One bad apple will spoil the whole bunch.” It takes some time, but it is very true that if you continue to connect yourself in toxic relationships, their toxins will poison your heart. Even if you go in with the intent of helping someone, that can backfire if you are not prepared in your heart and watching for the pollutants that can get on you.
In today’s scripture, Jesus told His disciples to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees. This sect was the most religious group of the day. Hardly a place where you would think you needed to be on guard. Ideally the priests would be the people you would trust the most to point you in the right direction and always be looking out for your best interest. However, that was not the case. The Pharisees had become immersed in bad doctrine and over the generations had been corrupted by the teaching of the former generation. They were set on rules and traditions and determined to make all people obey them. They gave no attention to love and grace so there was none of those qualities in them.
When Jesus warned the disciples about the Pharisees, He wanted them to not be so entrenched in doctrine that they had no compassion for people. As followers of Jesus, they would see an example of grace, mercy and love and that was the attitudes Jesus wanted them to grow in, not religious rules and policies. Jesus brought His disciples along with Him when He went out to reach hurting people. Yes, it was so they could watch and learn, but it was also so He would surround Himself with partners to be accountable to. Even though Jesus was God in person, the scripture say that He was a man and tempted in all ways, so He did need to keep Himself in check with others, so He was not lured away by the traps of the enemy. (see Hebrews 4:15)
Galatians 5:9 tells us that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. This is the message Jesus was teaching the disciples. Do not let the leaven/teaching of the Pharisees get on you or you will contaminate the whole group. He prepared them for the future days when He would be gone so they would stick together to encourage one another and keep each other from falling into the wrong mindset.
It is what He wants us to do today also. He does not want us to take on a religious works mentality that makes us believe we are better than others because we do good things, and our bad things are not as bad as everyone else. Instead, He wants us to love one another despite the setbacks and falls that we all take in life. To help each other out and lift each other up.
Today my encouragement is to love one another, help one another and have compassion on all others. If you are in toxic relationships that continue to pull you down and leave you empty, step away from them today. Find yourself a group that will support and encourage you as you begin to press into all that God has for you. Keep yourself accountable and protected by asking a person or a group of people to check in and give your inspiring words. The best place to start is God’s Word. Begin lining your heart and thoughts up with His love and kindness found in His Book the Bible. Then find a small group or bible class to connect in where you can surround yourself with loving Christians that are doing the work of ministry helping others. Make the decision today to purge out the unclean and corrupt attitudes and take the Word of God and others with you wherever you go.
Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 16:5-12
5 Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.”
8 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?
9 Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up?
10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?
11 How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.