Wednesday, November 25

Soul searching

Scripture: Matthew 23-25

Matthew 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

Observation

To whom did Jesus direct this scathing condemnation?  The same group to whom He said “Woe to you!” seven times!  These must have been terrible, sinful people!

In fact, they were the most religious people!  They would have been considered the religious elite, the most devout and pious.  Jesus condemns them for multiple reasons:

      • Not practicing what they preached—hypocrisy.
      • Crushing people with unbearable religious demands and doing nothing to help them.
      • “Showy” faith—“Everything they do is for show.”  It’s all about impressing others.
      • Self-exaltation.
      • Shutting others out of the Kingdom.
      • Creating religious work-arounds to justify their behavior.
      • Majoring on minors.
      • Concern about outward appearance while neglecting the state of their souls.
      • Resisting and rejecting God’s messengers of change.

Jesus’ harshest words weren’t for what we’d consider bad people, but for the self-righteous religious elite.

Application

Every time I read Matthew 23, it requires of me some soul searching.  I’m the religious elite, a pastor, a spiritual leader.  If Jesus were here in the flesh, would He be saying the same things about me?  I take this seriously, as should every Christian, particularly every Christian leader.  

So today, I’ll pray through this chapter and ask the Lord once again to search my heart, and show me if any of this is true of me.  I want to be the real deal, inside and out.  I certainly don’t want to hear Jesus say to me,  “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

Prayer: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23–24