Time Alone With God daily devotional

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout, JAXNAZ lead pastor

Monday, September 5

Matthew 23:1-3
New International Version (NIV)

A Warning Against Hypocrisy
23 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.


Consider: The Pharisees were the Jewish sect that saw themselves as the keepers and preservers of God’s Law—also called the Law of Moses. They were convinced that if every Jew kept the entire Law for one full day, the kingdom of God would come.

So why were they constantly at odds with Jesus? Why were they always confronting him and why was he always challenging them? Why did Jesus use such strong words when dealing with the Pharisees? In fact, they were the only ones who had Jesus’ biting language directed at them. Jesus didn’t call anyone else “hypocrites” (23:13) and “snakes” (23:33).

Jesus could read their motives. (By the way, that’s why we don’t call people hypocrites. We don’t know their motives. Only Jesus has that right.) They used the Law and religion to make themselves look holy as they oppressed and dominated others. They set themselves up as the arbiters of who was right with God and who was not. They used that power to control others. God’s intent for the people’s relationship with him was being destroyed by the Pharisees.

It remains the same today. Whenever people use religion—including the Christian faith—as a measuring rod that they can wield to declare who is in and who is out, Jesus is not seen. Judgmental religion is seen. And it’s ugly. Legalistic “righteousness” is as deadly today as ever.

We don’t come to Jesus as Pharisees who believe we have all the answers. We don’t save the world by bullying people into agreeing with our theology. We don’t belittle those who have yet to discover God’s grace that came to us through Christ. We come to Jesus as the “poor in spirit” (5:3) and approach our brothers and sisters as people who need the good news that we’ve discovered.

I love that old saying that describes how we approach the world. We’re beggars who are running to tell other beggars where we found bread.

Pray: “Lord, your grace is a gift that is beyond my comprehension. Thank you for teaching us that ‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world’ (John 3:17). Help me today to be a ‘saving’ force for you and never one who condemns. Thank you that you chose not to condemn me.”

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