Looking Back Over Jesus’ Life
My faith has been formed by the words of Jesus. Many times, I listen to Him speak, and try to follow the example He lifts up. However, in Matthew chapter 23, as Jesus criticizes the actions of the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, I cringe at His description of these supposedly religious people, and hope not to follow their example.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
One adage we hear says “Practice what you preach.” Good advice for our behavior. It seems that we were given ears and eyes so that we can check to see that words and actions match.
The scribes and Pharisees had been instructed in the ways of Moses (and God’s Law.) They knew how they should live their lives in order to experience more fully the kingdom of God, but they failed to do it. They gave faith lip service, and wanted to be seen as great religious teachers, but their actions contradicted their words.
The message to them and us is simple: practice what you preach. Dig into God’s word, and then let people see the dirt under your fingernails as you do what God has instructed you to do.
God, inspire me to take time to study the scriptures and to speak to you in prayer, and then energize me to put what you tell me into action today, as I faithfully follow my Lord and Savior Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.