15 Seconds of Fame. All eyes on you. Receiving an applaud. Taking a bow. If we’re being honest, it is easy to seek recognition in life’s little & big moments. In Matthew 23, while speaking to his disciples and to the crowds, Jesus warns against acts of hypocrisy & the seeking of self-glorification. Moreover, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were setting a poor example in their daily lives for they did not practice what they preached.
Matthew 23:4 states, “they (referring to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law) tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”
The teachers of the law & the Pharisees acted on a daily basis for all the wrong reasons. As it is said in verse 5 that “everything they do is done for people to see.” They craved high status. What do you think this may look like today? Maybe you have helped in a service activity with the sole intent of posting about it later on Social Media. Maybe you did the right thing just to impress someone. Maybe your worship service has lost the factor of authenticity and has become more of a production than anything. To this day, there are several ways that we may resemble the actions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, even if we are doing so unknowingly.
I love this passage because Jesus paints a clear picture of how one can be great and it is not found in status. Matthew 23:11-12 states “for the greatest among will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
This verse reminds me of a prayer that I have come to like. “God, hollow me of anything that would get in your way… Hollow me of any pride, insecurity, and doubt. Make me hollow enough that You can breathe something through me that would turn people’s eyes to You. Make me a hollow enough vessel that You can breathe something that is literally beyond me.” –Toby Mac
According to Mac, this has become his heartfelt prayer- one that he prays right before he composes a new song of worship. Even in the midst of fame, Mac knows that God is the one worthy of praise.
Are you willing to do what is good even if you are not glorified by the world? Are you willing to get your hands dirty with your teammates, classmates, co-workers, employees, peers, (etc.) to complete a task? Are you willing to humble yourself? We are vessels, equipped with the ability to turn eyes to the Lord above. Vessels who can shine a glimmer of light into an all too often dark world.
Finally, consider Matthew 6:1-2 as you go about your days. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:1-2).