SMatthew 23 1-3
Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer. “Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’
“Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ. “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
It’s easy to talk a good game. That’s basically what Jesus was saying about the religious leaders and Pharisees and the mentality they had about how expert they were. While Jesus was not taking anything away from them, he was basically saying they were thinking a little much of themselves. Sure, they knew the law of Moses, but in the presence of God wrapped in flesh, they thought they knew better. How often are we the same? We think we know more than we do.
These religious teachers had it all down to a science when it came to looking the part, sounding the part, playing the part. Don’t you know people like that? They’re good at teaching people, telling others what to do and pretending to be perfect. They sound like they have never done a thing wrong in their life. We all know that’s not true. Jesus was instructing his followers not to follow people who pretend to be so perfect. He was trying to drive home the importance of not taking people and their roles as experts too serious. He was even trying to remind his followers that it’s not a good idea to take responsibility or charge over the leadership of others. Jesus was saying, don’t even call anyone Father on this earth. Clearly Jesus was not downplaying earthly fathers, but saying the human carnal mind often has a tendency to make the leadership of an earthly source greater than the authority of God in heaven. This can be problematic.
An even bigger takeaway from this passage is- don’t assume you’re the leader of someone else’s life, but instead help people develop a solid relationship with the leadership of God. When a person steps down from the throne of their heart and removes themselves from being the voice of God in the lives of others, whether it’s based upon their title, assumed influence, or even self importance, then and only then can they truly be considered a true servant in the kingdom of God. Jesus pointed out that anyone who takes the posture of great in another person’s life is puffed up and cocky and the wind of life will get knocked out of them. How many of us have experienced that kind of reality check? It is really a good lesson for us all on humility. We should never assume we know it all. When we take a humble approach in life, we can depend on God to lift us up. Be encouraged and trust the most trusted expert of all- JESUS CHRIST!
SHERRY GRANT COPYRIGHT 2020