Mighty and Loving Lord, as I receive your Word today I want to live it in faith, and hope, and love.
Read MATTHEW 23:1–12
A Warning Against Hypocrisy
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
- Matthew 23:5 That is, boxes containing Scripture verses, worn on forehead and arm
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectPicture Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:1–17). What is it about this scene that attracts you to Christ?
During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of politicians in the UK were forced to apologize – even resign – when it emerged that they had breached the restrictions they had imposed to limit the spread of the virus. The charge leveled at them by the media was that of hypocrisy – national leaders demonstrating by their behavior that they were unwilling to live by the rules they had enforced on the general public.
That’s precisely how Jesus describes the conduct of the Pharisees here, as he warns his hearers against following their example (v 3). Their hypocrisy is rooted in a desire for prestige and status that governs their appearance, social life, and preferred salutations (vs 5–7). It is love for self, rather than whole-life love for God and neighbor, that serves as their primary motivation.
In stark contrast, Jesus requires that humility be the defining characteristic of the Christian community. Recognizing God as Father, Jesus as Messiah, and fellow believers as sisters and brothers, the church must resist self-promoting status structures from wider society (vs 8–10). The kingdom of heaven ushers in a whole new world order, not merely a spiritual rebranding of the status quo. We must demonstrate to our celebrity-obsessed world that we take Christ at his word – that service is the way of greatness (v 11).
How might Jesus’ teaching in these verses inform guidelines for the use of social media by Christians and churches?
Lord God, I know it is so easy to put adherence to a system before the will of God. Help me to be willing to serve others before being served myself.
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