August 2

Text: Matthew 23:8-12

"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.  And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.  But the greatest among you shall be your servant.  And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”  (NASB)

The kingdom that God would bring into existence would differ from all religious realities that they had known or experienced.  The things condemned by Jesus thus far in the scribes and Pharisees powerfully illustrated that fundamental change.  Some of the things the scribes and Pharisees valued the most would be nonexistent in God’s coming kingdom.  God’s coming kingdom would be a kingdom of relationship, not position.  It would be based on a common bond of faith, not on superiority over others.

In the nation of Israel through the centuries there arose a “pecking order” of religious positions.  These classes of religious prestige offered situations that gave honor and, at times, the advantages of prosperity.  People in these positions could expect honors and praise based on “who they were” instead of through the ways they helped others.

Jesus made it painfully clear that God valued service to others, not attaining religious positions.  God was (is) impressed with service, not with titles of honor and praise demanded by the position one occupied.  Belonging to God was (is) focused on service to others, not on demanded honors.  Belonging to God is about service, not about position.

The result: the religious titles cherished so much by some scribes and Pharisees meant nothing to God.  Because people honored and praised did not mean (and does not mean) God honored and praised.  The values of religious people may not be God’s values!

Realize that God is our teacher, and Christ leads us to God.  All in Christ are brothers who serve each other.  Those in Christ shun titles and embrace service.  Never would they give God’s title to people!

Suggestion for reflection: What is the difference between the praise of people and the praise of God?  (Read Romans 14:9-23.)

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