Daily Reflection – 10/16/19
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.” One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.”( Luke 11: 42-46)
The Gospel set before us today is a very important section. We see Jesus’ condemnation of the religious system that the Pharisees and the Scribes had built in His day.
As we look to the condemnation of the religious leaders, let’s be very careful that we don’t write off these verses because we think that they don’t apply to us. We all have a root of Phariseeism living within us. We must kill it and guard against allowing it to guide us. If we allow hypocrisy and legalism to dominate us, we will miss the Gospel and miss holiness.
The Pharisees were associated with God but He was not the center of their life. For them, God was simply one part among many things they worshipped. They are more interested in their own personal agendas and their own self-aggrandizement than the words of Jesus Christ. Jesus shows us the other things and then pronounces Divine judgment upon them. Jesus comes down extremely hard on these religious leaders and even declares six woes upon them collectively.
As I read this text, I think we should place ourselves in the room and understand Jesus is speaking to us as well. He points out our sinfulness as well as theirs. Understand the difference is we are not condemned with them but if we listen to Jesus’ condemning words, we can be given forgiveness and grace. Our responsibility is to use the searchlight of Sacred Scripture and shine it into the dark reaches of our souls to see if there is any trace of Phariseeism within us.
These religious leaders were more concerned with looking holy than actually being holy. This may, in fact, be the dish that the ritual hand washing was done in. It was shinny on the outside but inside it was filthy dirty. It’s much more important for the inside of a bowl or dish to be clean than the outside. Here the point is that if the inside is clean the outside will be clean as well.
What about us? Are we more concerned with looking the part of a Christian or actually being a Christian? Are you as concerned with holiness on Monday as you are on Sunday? Are you a Christian example to your coworkers? Do you uphold biblical standards when around non-believers or are you more apt to act like them?
Do we care more about what others think of us or what God thinks? Are we determined to convince other members of our parish of how smart we are or how holy we are? Do we lead other members of our congregation to a viewpoint not because it is about God but rather its about us.
Jesus knew that true religion comes from a saved heart. Jesus would not go with the flow. When everyone knelt down to do some act that only made people admire you, He stood back and would not do it.
Are we those who do what’s right by God’s standards or are we more concerned with standing out because we know more or look holier than others?
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, at times I look at my heart and see that it is hard and bitter. It is ready to jump self-righteously at the first opportunity to condemn someone else, but only so as to assure myself of my own moral superiority. Grant me a heart, meek and humble like yours.
Today Jesus also is challenging each of us to examine why we do what we do! Do we do it simply because it is expected of us? Or do we act in a certain way because we want others to think well of us? Or do we choose to do something because it is the “loving” thing to do? As we walk through our day today, may we be mindful of our motivations. Let us pray that today and every day that all our actions will flow from our love for God and our love for God’s people!