Thursday, February 11, 2021

Matthew 23 - Part 1


Read Matthew 23

Do as I say.  Not as I do.

Many of us old folks remember that saying.  Most won’t argue that such an attitude is not effective leadership. Lead by example is much better.

This is the exact attitude that Jesus pronounced upon the teachers of the law and the Pharisees.  But Jesus didn’t leave it there.  He told the people that they had to obey these men with poor examples of leadership.

Do what they say but not what they do.  Ouch!

The instructions that they give still come from God’s law even though they do not understand God’s heart.  They are terrible shepherds but they have memorized the rules.

They do not practice what they preach!

They will list ad infinitum the rules that one must follow but won’t help the least little bit.

Everything that they do is done for show.  They wear some big boxes on their foreheads.  They have tassels galore on their robes.  Think of someone like Muammar Gadhafi. He was the dictator of Libya for decades.  He was also a colonel in the Libyan army. His chest was always covered with medals.  He wanted to look important.

This is a rabbit trail but if you are the dictator of a country, why do you appoint yourself a colonel?  You think after 20 years, he would have promoted himself to general.

In any case, the Pharisees liked to walk around with their rank and medals on full display, getting the best seats wherever they went, being hailed as teacher or rabbi. They were the epitome of an it’s all about me attitude.

Jesus noted that the people must do what they say.  This was probably one of the least popular things that Jesus told the people.  It had to rank up there with love your enemies. 

But the concomitant still applied. Do as they say not as they do.

Yes, you live by a different model.  There will be people in authority that shouldn’t be in authority, but you are still called to live according to righteousness even when those above you don’t have clue what that is.

Some of you have been in positions where the best you could do is say, when it’s my turn I am sure not going to do things that way.

Don’t ever apply this to your parents. It will come back to bite you.  You might realize just how smart your parents actually were once you become one.  The only perfect parents are those with no children of their own.  Their thoughts and attitudes are always perfect.  They have never been put to the test, so they are unblemished, at least until they have their own children.

So, let’s exclude parents from this example, but most of us have had supervisors that the best we could do is just catalog the learning experience as something we would not do when we were in charge.

Some people are just negative examples.  Jesus told the people that the Pharisees were negative examples.  Do not follow their examples.

If you need positive examples, use that of the Father or the Christ (who just so happened to be the one teaching these people).

Don’t think that you will ever know enough to be called teacher or rabbi.  There is a sermon title that has been passed down for decades, surely going well back into the previous century, maybe further.

It is called, Titles or Testimonies.  I don’t know the text of the original message but for many of us, the title fully conveys the message.

When we stand before Jesus, he does not want to see our curriculum vitae. He doesn’t want to see our resume.  He doesn’t want our business card and he sure doesn’t care how many titles you can put before and after your name.

Our credentials are our love and service.  Use your gifts and talents to serve the Lord, mostly by loving one another and serving others.  When the roll is called up yonder, titles won’t mean diddly.  It’s will be our testimonies that will be the substance of our discussion with our Lord.

Here is your nugget to think on.

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

It’s got a last will be first and first will be last ring to it, don’t you think?

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.


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