The Importance of being Humble
Religion seems to attract both the needy and those who exploit them. Of course, that is not the whole story, but arrogant pride (however sweetly camouflaged) can never sit well with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. The Pharisees wanted to be admired for their wisdom, righteousness, and holiness. They wanted to be respected as being close to God. They were towards the top of the social tree in Jesus' day, maintaining their self-importance by having special seats in the synagogue and receiving reverential greetings in the marketplace.
Jesus was distressed by this behaviour. "Woe to you ..." was an expression of personal grief, but also a rebuke and a warning. He exposed the root of their heart language: they loved the praise of men and women, and the adoration of the children. Instead of encouraging the people to worship the Lord God Almighty, they put themselves forward to be the centre of attention. Their religion had facilitated their sinful hearts into making themselves into idols themselves and expecting others to worship them. Their self-seeking motivation was shockingly parallel to that of Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15).
However high we may be in society, our best reputation comes by being known as a humble child of God. And the same is true for those at the other end of the social or economic scale. Such people have the certainty of God's commendation. By contrast, those who crave the glory now will have what they want, although God will not approve. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:1, "Be careful not to practise your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
It is sad that so many today fall into the same trap. If you have already been snared by this temptation, the first step is to confess your sin (Job 42:1-6): then ask God to change your heart and your behaviour patterns so that the Lord is exalted (John 3:30). It may take some time to change the habits of a lifetime, but the change can start today (and all your family, friends and colleagues will appreciate the difference too!).
© Dr Paul Adams