True greatness

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people’” (Matthew 23:1-7 CSB).

The scribes and Pharisees often received criticism by Jesus – and rightly so, as we can see in the opening of this chapter. Continue reading “True greatness”

Target on the back

Sometimes I think there must be a target on the back of churches and their leaders. Whenever I see someone take a shot at the church in conversation, or on Facebook, or over dinner, I want to look at the back of church leaders’ shirts to see if there is the old familiar target everyone is shooting at.

The burden of elders and preachers and congregations, too, is they must be right one hundred percent of the time else people begin to take aim. Not only must they always be perfect, but they must be perfect with the right attitude. They can’t be smug or judgmental or harsh. And if they fail on any point, at any time, the command rings out: “Fire at will! Any church, any church leader, just take your free shots!” Continue reading “Target on the back”

Separating love and approval

The Mosaic generation represents a wide diversity of values and characteristics. Yet many of these young adults share a common value which sometimes might cause them to view older Christians as hypocrites. However, before we become too critical of older adults, it would seem both sides of the generational divide could learn something from each other regarding following Christ.  Continue reading “Separating love and approval”

Woe to those who lock the door!

Jesus was finished with the Pharisees and Sadducees.

It wasn’t that he shunned them, but they decided to stop talking to him (Matthew 22:46).

The lesson of Jesus to the crowds in Matthew 23 was to beware of these religious “leaders,” since they had no desire to become any more than what they were: they were hypocrites.

A hypocrite is a person who is an actor. The word itself comes from the drama of the Greeks and refers to the false face the actors wore while performing their roles. The Pharisees wore a false face of holiness. Underneath the mask, however, the Pharisees were quite unholy.

The first woe Jesus pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13 NASB). Continue reading “Woe to those who lock the door!”