Sept 28 Beware of the legalist

Luke 20:46 “Beware~~ of the experts in the law. They like walking around in long robes, and they love elaborate greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.”

If we believe that prestige in this world is equivalent to prestige before God, we will strive to be important and revered by people. This attitude reveals a set of values that corrupts a godly character.

In Luke 20:45, Jesus spoke publically to His disciples and to “all the people” listening in on His teachings as He listed a series of symptoms of a deeper problem in the beliefs and values of their spiritual leaders.

Jewish leaders had ceased to serve to benefit others and had become self–seeking, self–gratifying, and self–glorifying by pretending to be more important than they actually were.

In Luke 20:46, He describes the “experts,” “scribes,” or teachers in the schools and synagogues, who considered themselves authorities in the law of Moses. Theirs was a superficial doctrine with little heartfelt obedience or worship. Their lives were full of greed, pride, and self-righteousness.

They could not handle anyone being respected more than they thought they should be. Jesus gave a description of their narcissism that can speak to leadership in any culture.

Pride motivated them to wear special clothing that set them apart as prestigious and pompous religious leaders to be recognized and respected. They sought to gain attention by “lov[ing] . . . greetings in the marketplaces”; their egos were enhanced when they flaunted their positions in public.

Their conversations were all about themselves. They always sought prominence by claiming “the best seats . . . and places of honor.” They constantly pushed themselves into the limelight, jealous when anyone else was honored. They were always after more money, even taking from those who had little (i.e., widows), probably for favors or religious benefits (Luke 20:47a). They worked to appear spiritual by “making long prayers” (20:47b).

The command is not only to be weary of such self–centeredness in other leaders but, more important, to “beware” not to fall into the same superficial, hypocritical leadership style. Stay humble as the Master!

“Dear Master, pride and selfishness are so powerful that they can make my life unprofitable for Your plan. Teach me to be humble, as You are, while I do my best to serve others, not myself.”

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