MATTHEW 23:1-5a: “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others…”
OBSERVATION: Matthew 23 is a scathing rebuke by Jesus of the religious hypocrites of His day. They are epitomized by the scribes and the Pharisees, the Jewish ruling religious class. Jesus warns his disciples that their words are empty because they are not followed up with action. There is an outward appearance of piety, but no inward changed or proof of such. The old adage – “Don’t do as I do, do as I say”, fits them perfectly.
Someone wisely told me – don’t export what you aren’t practicing at home. They were not saying that you had to wait until you were “perfect” to teach the Scriptures. However, they were warning me against the pitfall of preaching without practice. How the church today falls under reproach because we have not heeded these words. The world looks on with ridicule and disdain as they see high profile leaders saying one thing and secretly living another.
Perhaps we should rewrite the old adage – “Don’t do what I say, until you see what I do!” This would be more in line with what Jesus was teaching. He went on to rebuke the scribes and Pharisees by saying – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26).
This is good advice and sound wisdom. First clean the inside of the cup and the plate. Make sure we are endeavoring to become holy in heart before we try to act holy in life. You can hide a wicked heart in false clothing of piety. However, you cannot hide a holy heart in clothing of wickedness. Light will always dispel darkness. The key is for the light to first be within so that the transformation of the Spirit takes place in both our attitudes and our actions! This is the broken and contrite heart that neither God nor man will despise. They might not agree with out theology, but they cannot deny a life that is truly surrendered and living out God’s love and life!
Lord, create in me a clean heart! Change me deep within! May the attitudes of my heart be submitted and conformed to Your light and life. May the inside of my cup (heart, soul, and mind) determine the outside of my cup (body and actions). May people be able to see what I do before I tell them what I believe. In Jesus Name!