Emails to God – Beware the Yeast of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-12)

12 Apr

1 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.

Dear God, I find the first words of verse three to be a little contradictory to the rest of this passage: “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you.” It makes me think that the teachings were good, but the execution and follow through was bad. I think the thing that frustrated Jesus the most about the Pharisees, from reading this passage, was how much they loved the attention of their position. They were addicted to the respect.

I happen to have a fairly visible position in a small town. I work for an organization that has a noble mission and was started by one of the Godliest people I have ever known. In some ways, I have inherited her mantle, although I have also developed my own over the last six years. The hard thing is that I know that you are the reason behind so many of the good things that happen to us here, and yet people are constantly wanting to give me the credit. Frankly, I get a lot of love from people I hardly know, and it sometimes overwhelms me.

Father, I know you call me to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. I know that you want me to be the least among the people with whom I live and work. I know you want me to decrease as you increase. So help me to do that today. Especially today. Help me to deny the ideas of self-pity, entitlement, and deservedness. Instead, help me to offer myself to others regardless of what it costs me. Help me to love our patients and give of myself to them, serve our staff and volunteers and help them draw closer to you, parent my children and offer myself for their good, and adore and nurture my wife as she begins an exciting and possibly overwhelming trip.

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Matthew


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