Note: Devotion based on last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 23:1-12.
In Matthew 23 Christ condemns the scribes and the Pharisees under the charge of religious or spiritual hypocrisy. He begins with this description of their problem: “For they say, and do not” (23:3b).
He then proceeds to present at least five illustrations of their hypocrisy:
First, they legalistically pile up various extra-biblical religious duties and requirements upon the shoulders of others, but they themselves do not lift a finger to perform any of these onerous duties (v. 4).
Second, they only seek to perform religious and spiritual duties to be seen by their fellow men (v. 5a: “But all their works they do for to be seen of men”).
Third, their hypocrisy even led them to seek spiritual attention through their clothing and outward appearance (v. 5b: “they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments”).
Fourth, they loved having positions of recognition (v. 6: “And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues”).
Fifth, they loved to receive greetings and to have auspicious titles given to them (v. 7: “And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi”).
Christ continued by teaching that the one who exalts himself shall be abased and the one who humbles himself will be exalted (v. 12).
Spurgeon noted, “The way to rise is to sink self; the lower we fall in our own esteem, the higher shall we rise in our Master’s estimation” (Commentary on Matthew, 352).
Let us heed these warnings and seek to lead a life of humility and integrity before the Lord.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle