Beware of religious show offs. That’s not exactly how Jesus put it. That’s just how I interpret it.
We’ve all probably known a few before. They’ve been with us forever. We read of God’s anger against them in many Old Testament passages. They were there with Jesus and some may sit close to you in worship every week.
But why do we need to beware of them?
Jesus spoke to his disciples loud enough for everyone to hear. So, this is something he wanted everyone to understand. Chances are, he affirmed what people already knew. I mean, you can tell when someone has that kind of holier-than-thou attitude, right? They’re not usually quiet or reserved about it. They not only want the respect and acknowledgement for who they are and what they’ve done, they let you know it.
Again, what’s the danger?
Can’t we let people be who they are? I think so. But Jesus is talking about religious leaders. These were people who had direct influence over the religious life of other people. And they used that position to benefit themselves. To upkeep a particular way of life and power structure. The argument should be made they also kept others in their place. So, even if it’s far less than ideal, I’m okay with giving people space to be who and what they are. We all need to experience God’s grace as we are today. But we cannot let leaders abuse or take advantage of others. What I’m less comfortable with is allowing leadership to carry on with such a posture.
This is where we need to beware most.
Religious show offs do not make faithful shepherds. They’re too preoccupied by what they’re getting out of the service. Whether we like to admit it or not, we follow leaders. Where these leaders take us is not where God wants us to be.
What is admirable is how you treat the poor. The attitude you have about them. The way you interact with those with far less than you. Faithful leaders do not put up with or endure relationships with the poor among them. They cherish them. In their leading, they step over the societal lines that demean their humanity. That’s where Jesus went.
That’s where I want to go, too.