Matthew 23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Big Idea: Avoid pride at all cost!

In case you haven’t noticed, there has been a big theme during Christ’s time at the temple. Pride is bad and humility is good. If the commandments boil down to loving God and others, sin boils down to pride; focusing too much on yourself. Pride isn’t merely thinking too highly of yourself, it is thinking of yourself too much!

Again, the sin that Christ is condemning here is the scribes desire to be right (to be the authority) rather than pursue what is right (God’s authority). This leads to a pursuit of status and influence. But God is jealous of his own glory and God cares most about people. If we stop caring for others, we are disobeying the greatest commandment. If we are disobedient, then how can we please God? The scribes and teachers observed all of the rituals and sacrifices, but their heart was far from God.

Application: Jesus is using harsh language to condemn the religious leadership. And he is specifically condemning them for their attitudes, for the sins of their heart. These sins are far less apparent, but despite the external polish, the scribes were still so obviously hypocritical that Jesus told the people not to do what they do. Instead, Jesus tells us that we can be truly and objectively great! We can accomplish this simply by caring for others! Today, you get to to be great in the eyes of God. Today is your chance to love someone, to pray for someone, to have patience with someone who doesn’t deserve it, and to assist someone in need. Take a minute before you go on with your day to think of one person that you can go out of your way to show love to today. Got them in mind? Let’s go!