Monday, August 26, 2013

All who exalt themselves will be humbled ....

Matthew 23:1  Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2  "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; 3  therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4  They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5  They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. 6  They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, 7  and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. 8  But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. 9  And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father--the one 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  All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

It is thought that “to get ahead in life” an individual must find ways to be noticed. Useful avenues include ostentatious gifts to charity, public observance of religious ritual; and volunteering for an aid organisation.  Twitter, facebook and blogs are harnessed in pursuit of self-promotion, as the individual lets society know what an awesome person he or she is.

Matthew tells of Jesus’ criticism of such relentless self-promotion. He is scathing about the ego-gratifying strategies of the religious leadership of his day:  “They do all their deeds to be seen by others ... phylacteries broad and their fringes long... the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues ... to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.”  It was all about being seen to be important.

Remember, says Jesus, “all who exalt themselves will be humbled.”  If we want to get ahead in the estimation of Jesus, then we are to humble ourselves and become the servants of all.

Ordinary 22 / Pentecost +15
44 True Greatness
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 271.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day

1 comment:

  1. In Mt. 23 Jesus uses the word hypocrites a lot. The Greek word for hypocrites was used especially for "actors," like those in the theater, putting on a show to impress others. In Mt. 23 Jesus portrays scribes and Pharisees who "sit on Moses" seat" (at the front) and love to be called rabbis, the experts in the law of Moses. This setting and show are similar to that of many churches and their elevated platforms, pulpits, and preachers.