Read Matthew 23
The first of the woes—the kingdom of heaven.
You Pharisees don’t want people to live in the kingdom of heaven; yet, you don’t live there yourself. What’s up with that?
If anyone truly entered the kingdom of heaven, the rules of the world and the secular demands of the religious hypocrites would have no hold on anyone.
The Pharisees enjoyed their high standing. They didn’t want anyone cutting into that. They wanted to use God’s word to control and not to empower the people who sought after him.
Did they not understand how much greater it would be to live among people empowered by God to do God’s will?
Do we understand that making someone less does not make us more? We know many people like this. They want to bring down, discredit, gossip about someone else so they feel better than those they have disparaged.
This section is a protracted monologue by our Lord about the Pharisees and other religious hypocrites. It is one chastising after another without counsel to us.
So, here is our counsel from the full biblical witness.
Pride leads us to shame. Humility keeps company with wisdom.
He who despises his neighbor lacks sense.
Do nothing out of vain ambition or selfish deceit.
Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.
We are not in competition with others. We serve God by serving others. We should celebrate when the lost come home. We should rejoice as others seek to follow the Lord.
We only have to think back a few verses in this chapter.
Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.