Thursday, April 3, 2008

consider myself

Matthew 23

Seven woes. Seven rebukes. Seven not so friendly responses to the religious leaders of Jesus day. It is easy to read through Matthew 23 and think, "Yeah, Jesus you tell them! You no good religious teachers!" But then I start to think about who are the religious teachers today. Umm, me? I wonder how many of these warnings could be applied to me or others today? Is there a parallel?

Overall theme of the chapter:
5"Everything they do is done for men to see:

Application: All leaders must check motives for the things they do.

Warning #1
13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Questions: Do I ever decide who should receive God's grace? Do I ever pass over someone because they don't appear to offer as much to the kingdom as someone else?

Warning #2
15"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Question: Jesus said that when a student is fully trained he will be like his teacher. Based on my faith and purity should anyone become like me?

Warning #3
16"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?

Question: Do I place the correct emphasis on spiritual things over material things? Do I get confused in thinking my preaching or singing or teaching is what makes a difference to people or is it the power of God and His word?

Warning #4
23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Question: Could I be feeling good about turbo tax red flagging what I gave to the church last year, but forget to love people and show mercy when I should?

Warning #5
25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Question: Does my inside present well in God's eyes or am I just putting on a show for everyone else?

Warning #6
27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Question: It is not a question of whether I am a hypocrite or not; the question is in what areas am I a hypocrite?

Warning #7
29"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'

Question: Do I make myself out to be more than what I am?

My prayer is that God would help me to be humble and walk with Him everyday. May I be closer each day, more devoted each morning, more grateful each night.


Aaron (Blog Moderator) said...

Good thoughts... and super fodder for a message series.

Doug said...

Good stuff. Jesus isn't a wishy-washy Messiah and He doesn't want a wishy-washy church. Thanks for the exhortation from the Word!

shh said...

To add to the thoughts coming out of Matthew,
Matt 7:2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."

I try to turn this passage on myself. Do I create a standard for others that is higher than the standard I create for myself?
When others are in need of sympathy/empathy, am I quick to refuse it for them? And yet, when I need empathy or sympathy from others, am I quick to ask for it, even demand it?

I think this is a part of "Love thy neighbor as yourself". If we truly love our neighbor, then we don't develop standards that are higher for others than we put on ourselves. It helps us to walk with an attitude of compassion for others when we try to put ourselves in others shoes.

The woman at the well is one of two stories that always grabs my heart. Jesus puts the perfect balance of compassion, agape love but yet doesn't compromise on holiness. I think its a lifetime process to keep working to being that type of Christian.

(The other story is when the blind man cries out to the Son of David to have mercy on him. I recently taught in Sunday School how the mercy/compassion of the bible is always followed by an ~action~ and is not just some kind of actionless ~feeling~ in the gut).

I think the better definition of hyprocrisy (which Jesus several times condemns in the religious leaders of the day) (and using the passage above) would be :
Setting a standard for others than is higher than the standard I set for myself.
This keeps the onus on me, rather than always pushing it onto others.

The longer I live, the more I know that there are times when I need to show the compassion and forgiveness of Christ, and times when I need the compassion and forgiveness of Christ.

Way to keep the focus on ourselves Dave, rather than to just keep pushing it onto others.


It's been a while since RBC (1990/91). Hope things are well with you.
I remember back in the day, your favorite passage was "Jacob was stunned". How about a blog on that one?

Your brother in Christ,

secondjohnvs12 said...


wow! it has been a long time. it is good to hear from you. send me an email and tell me where you are and what you are doing. family? work? kids? pet elephants? you know the basics.