Here is a very helpful post for parents–How (Not) to Raise a Pharisee.  Kurt Gebhards writes:

It is the sad testimony of church history that the works and expressions of sacrificial love and devotion of one generation of Christians can quickly turn into legalistic rules and regulations for the next.

 Churched children are seldom given to outright defiance of authority; they are much more susceptible to the poison of Pharisaism. Hypocrisy in the heart is much more difficult to spot than disobedient behavior. The Bible gives us some definite character traits of the pretentious pietist, and here is what they may look like in a child:

Bullet His outward behavior and adherence to rules are driven by a desire to please men, not by a love for God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk. 12:30).

Bullet Doing good works and having them observed by adults is more important than the action itself (Mt. 6:5).

Bullet The child is openly obedient and responsive — asking to pray before bedtime with you — while maintaining a quietly deceitful and rebellious attitude (Gal. 6:7).

Bullet He scrupulously observes the letter of the law — like religiously bringing his Bible to church — but neglects the weightier spirit of the law — like sharing his favorite toys with his siblings (Mt. 23:23).

Bullet He craves the verbal praises and tangible rewards of his parents and teachers, but cares little for the approbation of God Himself (Jn. 12:43)

(Read the rest here)

I’ve worked with children for many years and have been a father for six years now.  I echo the danger of raising our children to be pharisees.  But the one thing missing from this post is the warning to parents that we can be Pharisees too.  I can be a Pharisee.  I can easily care more about pleasing man than pleasing God.  So it begins with me.  It begins with me humbly admitting my sin before God and depending on him and his grace alone to change me and to change my children through the power of the gospel.

(HT: Zach Nielsen)

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