August, Day 7

Text: Matthew 23:16-22

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.'  You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold?  And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated.'  You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering?  Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.  And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.”  (NASB)

This woe reminds us of Matthew 5:33-37.  The concern of each teaching is the same—the injustice of deceit.  People who belong to God do not deceive others, do not deliberately create wrong impressions to exploit others.  God’s people have no desire to hurt or take advantage of other people.  Their commitment to truth is a standard of living every day in all circumstances.

Jesus condemned religious practices that sanctioned deceit.  The vows that scribes and Pharisees said a person must keep were vows made by the temple’s gold, by an offering, or by God’s throne.  Meaningless vows that could be broken were made by referring to the temple, or the altar, or heaven.  The scribes and Pharisees said the basis of the oath determined if what the person promised was or was not binding.  Therefore a “godly person” could deceive an unsuspecting person if the “godly person” took care to swear by the “right” thing.

Jesus condemned artificial distinctions!  No godly person intentionally committed acts of ungodliness! Never was (is) the objective prosperity by deception.  Always the objective was (is) trustworthiness.

Suggestion for reflection: How are people exploited through deception today?  (Read Deuteronomy 25:13-15.}

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