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People have swallowed the weirdest things.

We all expect young children to put small objects in their mouths (and we try to stop them, of course), but then there are the adults.

One man in Croatia was found to have a lighter in his stomach. He had intentionally swallowed it whilst at a police station because it contained a small quantity of drugs and incriminating evidence against him.

Another, a 29-year-old in Ireland, swallowed a small cell phone and then there was the story of the 18-year-old who was trying to induce vomiting with a toothbrush and, well, you can guess the rest!

Some things are not meant to be inside us.

Have you ever wondered why are there so many accounts in the gospels about the Pharisees, their rules and Jesus’ confrontations with them? We know that “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16), so why do we read so many stories about these guys? Surely, they don’t exist today!

I was talking with a friend a while back. I had gently challenged him about a particular attitude he was displaying when he asked, “Do you think I am a Pharisee?” Taken aback, I said ‘No!’ But, on hindsight, I think I should have said “Maybe. I think, potentially, there is a Pharisee in all of us.”

Does that seem a bit of a stretch? For me, if I am honest, I know there is one. I try to hide him, push him down, but he is definitely in there. What is he up to? Well, like a virus, he is silently trying to spread his influence. He wants to have his way.

Are you feeling brave? Let me invite you to participate in the, ‘Do I have the Pharisee virus?’ test. I can tell you are excited! So, let’s get started:

1. How hard do you work to look good on the outside? I am not talking about that new haircut, I am talking about your secret desire that everyone you meet will believe that you are a good person? In other words, do you seek the praise of others more than the praise of God?

2. How easy is it for you to apologise? Or are you rarely in the wrong? Do you recognise moments when you fall short of God’s best or you? Do you put them right?

3. When you meet someone who lives, let’s say, a ‘colourful life’ – do you compare yourself to them? Do you think you are better? When was the last time you prayed, “have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner”?

So, how did you get on? Did you test positive or negative for the Pharisee virus?

It is so easy to read the Gospels and pass judgement on the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, but perhaps it takes some humility and courage to recognise that, sometimes, there may be a little Pharisee inside us too. Let’s make an agreement together: our hearts belong to God; the Pharisee has no place there!