Attract-o-gusting | Matthew 23:1-12 | 125


"Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels."

Mat 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples,
Mat 23:2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.
Mat 23:3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.
Mat 23:4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
Mat 23:5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.
Mat 23:6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues.
Mat 23:7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’
Mat 23:8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.
Mat 23:9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.
Mat 23:10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.
Mat 23:11 The greatest among you must be a servant.
Mat 23:12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Why are those horrible self righteous people so attract-o-gusting?

What? It’s not in the dictionary you say. Okay, okay…. I just made up that word. I made it up because I needed a word that both displayed attraction and disgust at the same time. Now that we’ve established the meaning of this new word, let’s see if we can find it in Jesus’ teaching in the passage above.

First, let’s make note of the surrounding circumstances to this teaching. Jesus is speaking to the crowds and to His disciples directly, He is no longer addressing the Pharisees one-on-one. Jesus has just finished engaging the Pharisee’s (and the Saduccees) in “battles of spiritual understanding”. These battles were instigated by the Phari-Sad’s (since we’re making up words why not one that represents them as a general group) to both discredit Jesus and to build themselves up. The Phari-Sad’s failed miserably on that account, so plotting the death of Jesus will most likely quickly follow.  (Side Note: What happens to Jesus, happens to His church)

Now that Jesus has the attention of the crowds, because of His recent battles with the leadership, he begins to use the Pharisees as a lesson…just remember “who” the lesson is for.

Let’s look at the different parts of this teaching and ask Jesus what He wants us to understand. 

Mat 23:2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.
Mat 23:3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.

Wait a minute Jesus! You just soundly defeated these guys in a battle of wits and now you want us to do whatever they say? I’m confused…ah…oh, I see. You want me to practice what they preach but not what they do. But how does that make sense? Can You explain further?

Mat 23:4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
Mat 23:5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.
Mat 23:6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues.
Mat 23:7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’

So, what your saying is that they create crushing religious demands on people and that’s bad – right? Or, are you saying that the religious demands are not necessarily bad if the heart is in the right place. If we point out a command in the Word of God and we are LOVINGLY helping people to understand and follow those lawful demands, not in a state of self righteousness or hypocrisy, but in a state of love – then we are doing the Will of the Father. Is that what Your getting at? Isn’t that what You did Jesus? I think I’m starting to understand…

Mat 23:8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.
Mat 23:9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.
Mat 23:10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.

Okay, I think I’m starting to get a clearer picture. Now, I think You’re teaching me how to avoid becoming self righteous. I realize that I could take even this teaching to the temporal level and make it sound like You’re saying “Never become a teacher, or let anyone call you a teacher” or “Never become a Father, or let anyone call you Father”. It seems more likely – now that I know this is about the state of the heart – that you are teaching us to not allow others to steal the authority that belongs to God for themselves. Also, I should not allow my own heart to feel that it knows better than God. This seems to be direction on what to avoid within myself.

Mat 23:11 The greatest among you must be a servant.
Mat 23:12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Now You’re telling me what I really need to do. This is the conclusion of everything You just taught and what will help me to avoid being like the Pharisee – right? Again You come at me, at us, with the “humbleness”…this seems to be a theme in Your teachings Jesus. But, here’s a problem for You…why is it so hard to be humble? Why do I seek praise for myself and admire those who receive praise from others? How can I change that? Why do I do that? I know, I know…lot’s of questions…

Defining attract-o-gusting…could it be pride?

So what is self-righteousness and why is it so disgusting and attractive at the same time? I think the answer comes from the root of all sin….pride. Humbleness is the opposite of pride. Please note that I don’t think Jesus is teaching us to hate Pharisees. He is teaching us how to not be like one…the lesson is still for our own hearts.

Let’s look at our own hearts when we observe a “Pharisee” standing on a street corner praying loudly for all to hear.

Pride:

“Wow! That Pharisee really looks great in his robes!”
“I wish I could be as religious and good as he is.”
“I want to be a Pharisee, but it would be so hard.”
“I wonder if I could pray just like that too.”
“If only I could pray like that, I could have the respect that Pharisee has.”
“I wish people would look at me the way they look at that Pharisee.”

“What makes him think he’s so special”
“I would be much nicer to people if I was a Pharisee.”
“I certainly wouldn’t have used those words in myyyyy prayer.”
“What a self righteous pompous turd. People only like him because he has power.”
“I am completely disgusted by him and his air of superiority.”

Do you see how pride took us down the road; starting with attracted and ending with disgusted? Now let’s look at it from a humble heart. I must admit, as a sinner…this one may be a little harder for me to get right.

Humbleness:

“That man is pouring out his heart to God for all to see. I’m not sure God would want me to do it that way.”
“He is a man in need of a Messiah just like me.”
“I wonder if there is anything I can do to help him. Maybe he needs a drink of water.”
“I want to glorify God.”

There is a definite difference between these two approaches and I must admit, I have landed squarely in the pride category more times than I can count. Humbleness is not a part of our natural sinful natures, but it is what God has called us to be. We need to submit to Him and give glory to Him and obey Him…not to look better to other people, but to attain a humble heart and give glory to God.

The only way to not be attract-o-gusting or attract-o-gusted, is to give your HEART to God. Even in this, if we take the credit for making ourselves more humble, we are only doing the opposite and becoming more self righteous. God is the ONLY one that can make you humble.

Prayer:

Lord Father in Heaven,

You are the only one deserving of praise. You have accomplished my salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ. You alone can change my heart; all I can do is give it to You. Lord, You know I have stumbled and I have fallen. You know that I am attract-o-gusted with sin. I am no good at fighting it. You are. It can’t even exist in Your presence. I want the victory that You have won in my life. Please forgive my sins and fill me with the Holy Spirit for today. I need Your victory indwelling me. I need the Mind of Christ and I ask for it now.

Protect my loved ones. Be with the prayer request that I have heard this week. In all things…I ask that Your Will be done. Amen.

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2 thoughts on “Attract-o-gusting | Matthew 23:1-12 | 125

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