Read Luke 12:1-12
Jesus always knows the opportune time to share the most important truths. Luke 12 begins with the words "Under these circumstances..." Remember at the end of Luke 11 we saw Jesus' harsh correction of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Scripture says that these scribes and Pharisees began to be very hostile, questioning him closely so that they might catch him in something he would say.
It was under these circumstances that thousands of people began to gather. Luke tells us they were stepping on one another just to hear what Jesus might say next. As if his enemies were not angry enough Jesus took this moment, looking toward his disciples and said: "Beware the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy."
Leaven is a substance that's put into the dough to make it ferment or rise. Jesus is saying that hypocrisy is what makes the Pharisees grow, it's what makes them rise to the top. The idea that they hold everyone else to one standard but they live by another themselves has put them where they are. It's rather easy to get ahead when everyone else must follow the rules but you're able to cut corners.
Jesus tells the crowds not to worry or fear that this hypocrisy will be revealed for what it is. But that even if it is not revealed in this life; "Though they may kill the body...", it will be revealed when God comes. God's punishment for those who walk in hypocrisy is hell. Plain and simple it's a dangerous life to live.
So Jesus has called us to another life, a forgiving life. Scripture says that if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven. The truth is we must live a non-hypocritical life, a life that understands we needed forgiveness and therefore we must give it.
In the Lord's prayer, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray these words, "And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us." The admonition here is that we are people who have been forgiven, a people who call out for continual forgiveness and also a people who give forgiveness no matter the offense.
Just like Jesus our power is power under. We don't live hypocritical lives to rise to the top instead we humble ourselves coming under those who need forgiveness just as we did, forgiving them so that God might raise us up.
We must beware the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. In order to be the people God requires we must first realize we have been forgiven then we should forgive others according to the same forgiving standard. So, have you forgiven lately?