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November 21, 2022 - Matthew 23

Jesus does not take it easy on the Pharisees who themselves take it easy while piling onto others unreasonable expectations. And even when they do good, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others” (23:5-7). How different it must be among us as Christ’s followers: “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (23:11). This instruction is so difficult for us. To do good and never be noticed! Never to be thanked! Never given the recognition we believe we deserve!

In another place, Jesus taught, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (6:1-4). Jesus’ teaching is so clear; certainly needs no explanation from me.

What does the Lord require for praise and offering?

What sacrifice, desire or tribute bid you bring?

Do justly; Love mercy; Walk humbly with your God.

Rulers of men, give ear! Should you not justice show?

Will God your pleading hear, while crime and cruelty grow?

Do justly; Love mercy; Walk humbly with your God.

How shall our life fulfill God’s law so hard and high?

Let Christ endue our will with grace to fortify.

Then justly, in mercy we’ll humbly walk with God. -- Albert F. Bayly (1949)

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