Thrive: Beware of the Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees – Melanie Storie

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Matthew 16:6

“Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” —Matthew 16:6

When my family and I were preparing for a two-year mission in rural Alabama, we went through a period of training. During one of our training sessions, the leader talked to us about our prejudices and what it would be like to live as minorities. We did not talk about someone else’s race problem, we dealt with our own. We all have prejudices—it is when we do not acknowledge them that they grow and fester and threaten to hurt us or someone else. He encouraged us to acknowledge the clicking locks on our car or the clutching of our purses when a man of another race approaches us. What thoughts are we dealing with in that moment? Where do those thoughts come from?

This warning by Jesus to his disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees comes from a similar place. The Pharisees and Sadducees, in their zeal for the law and what looked, on the outside, like righteousness, were so busy worrying about everyone else’s missteps that they failed to see their own shortcomings. They were more concerned with Jesus healing on the Sabbath than they were with the people in need of healing. They were so concerned with tripping up Jesus that they never realized that they were face to face with God.

My husband and I have a running joke. When he preaches a sermon that is particularly convicting to me I say, “Great sermon, pastor. I sure am glad ‘so and so’ was there to hear it.” It’s funny because it’s true— many people hear the words of any sermon and think of how it applies to someone else. That is the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees: the warm, comfortable, growing “I have arrived. I no longer need to look at myself and my need for God to continually work in me. I’ll spend my energy improving everyone else.” thoughts.

That yeast can be tempting. It is best for us to steer clear of that kind of thinking.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.” —James 4:10

Melanie_Storie_250Melanie Storie is a graduate of Catawba College and Campbell University Divinity School. She has been on staff at churches in North Carolina and Virginia as minister of children, and with her husband, Matt, served with Sowing Seeds of Hope, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship ministry in Perry County, Alabama. Melanie and Matt have two children, Aiden and Owen. They now live in Shelby, North Carolina.

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