Acting for the audience!
Scripture reading for August 17th: Isaiah 4-6, Matthew 23
Matthew 23: 1-7 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 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. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feast and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.”
Religion can easily turn into hypocrisy. Jesus’ pointed out how the religious leaders of that day were in positions of authority and knew and taught God’s Word as truth, but did not put it into practice in their own lives. They demanded others strictly obey their teaching and judged those who failed. They did their religious duties just for show, playing to the audience of others. They loved titles and recognition from men, but neglected to please God by living by faith in humble obedience. It is easy to slip into the performance mode in today’s culture as well. Ask God to mercifully show you where this is happening.
Matthew 23:37-38 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your loving rebuke of religious hypocrisy. Search my heart and reveal any area of my life that is governed by pride and pleasing men rather than by humble faith and pleasing You. Gather me and my family under the protection of Your Presence and Word. We are willing to go for You and proclaim the Gospel and rest in Your provision and care.
Isaiah 6:8-10 “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And He said, “Go and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and be healed.””