Thursday, July 27
In Matthew 23:1-12 Jesus makes a scathing denunciation of the Pharisees—in public to a large crowd. Because the Pharisees “sit in Moses’ seat” (overseeing the Law) the people need to obey them. That was the only good thing he said about the Pharisees. But the people should not do what they do “for they do not practice what they preach.” Their goal was to magnify themselves in the eyes of the people so as to gain honor and prestige. Warren Wiersbe in “On being a Servant of God,” (p. 19), put it this way “The Pharisees used the common people to build their own authority instead of using their authority to build the people.” Well put! Imagine what would have happened had the Pharisees had a heart for their own people. They would have welcomed their Messiah and encouraged the people to follow him. They would have led the nation in worshipping him. Wiersbe is warning today’s church leaders about using a God given position to exploit it for selfish gain. This practice is as old as the human race—Gideon, Saul, and most of the kings that followed, and Balaam and thousands of other false prophets. The sin nature has infected all of us. None of us are exempt. Only by God’s grace can we be different. Even as Christians, we are dependent on God to change us. Rom. 12:1-2 tells us how to do that. “I urge you . . . to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God . . . Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” You will notice that we have a part in that, but it is only achieved by divine power. So if you don’t want to be a “Pharisee” listen to Paul. Submit to God and let him change your life. You will have a productive life, you will be happy and content—despite trials and failures—you will please God, and you will have eternal rewards.