What Jesus Did! 'How Not to Lead' — Matthew 23:4-10

Friday, October 27, 2017

"They make strict rules that are hard for people to obey. They try to force other people to obey all those rules. But they themselves will not try to follow any of those rules. The only reason they do good things is for other people to see them. They wear special boxes full of Scriptures. They make these boxes bigger and bigger. And they make their special prayer clothes very long {so that people will see them}. Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to get the most important seats at the feasts. And they love to get the most important seats in the synagogues. They love for people to show respect to them in the market places. And they love to have people call them 'Teacher.' But you must not be called 'Teacher.' You are all brothers and sisters together. You have only one Teacher. And don't call any person on earth 'Father.' You have one Father. He is in heaven. And you should not be called 'Master.' You have only one Master, the Christ."
— Matthew 23:4-10
Illustration of Matthew 23:4-10 — "They make strict rules that are hard for people to obey."

Key Thought

I've heard a whole bunch of lessons on how to be a good leader, but I've never heard a more powerful lesson on how NOT to be a good leader than Matthew 23. In this chapter Jesus pronounces seven woes—seven "How terrible!" statements. In these, he denounces the religious leaders of his day for their selfish, misguided, abusive, arrogant, contemptible, and condescending leadership.
Unfortunately, many of the abuses by religious leaders that Jesus denounces in this chapter are actively and widely practiced today by some religious leaders. Anyone longing to be a spiritual leader of any kind must routinely revisit this chapter to be warned about the dangers of distorted leadership. Jesus takes very seriously the way his followers will lead in his Kingdom. Of course, when the hero of a movement is willing to die a sacrificial death for his followers, it tends to stand leadership styles upside down. Maybe that's what Jesus had in mind when he said that in his Kingdom, "The first will be last and the last would be first!" Bottom line for today's verses: Leaders must be helpful to those they lead, not so they will be seen and honored, but so that those they serve will be blessed and God himself will be pleased!

Today's Prayer

O God, forgive me when I grandstand my Christian service. Please open my heart so that I will serve you more genuinely and honestly whether anyone notices or not. Give me eyes to see those who have burdens that need to be lifted and give me willing hands to serve them as Jesus did. In my Savior's precious name I pray. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

Then Jesus spoke to the people and to his followers. Jesus said, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have the authority (power) to tell you what the law of Moses says. So you should obey the things they say. You should do all the things they tell you to do. But their lives are not good examples for you to follow. They tell you to do things, but they don't do those things themselves. They make strict rules that are hard for people to obey. They try to force other people to obey all those rules. But they themselves will not try to follow any of those rules. "The only reason they do good things is for other people to see them. They wear special boxes full of Scriptures. They make these boxes bigger and bigger. And they make their special prayer clothes very long {so that people will see them}. Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to get the most important seats at the feasts. And they love to get the most important seats in the synagogues. They love for people to show respect to them in the market places. And they love to have people call them 'Teacher.' "But you must not be called 'Teacher.' You are all brothers and sisters together. You have only one Teacher. And don't call any person on earth 'Father.' You have one Father. He is in heaven. And you should not be called 'Master.' You have only one Master, the Christ. The person that serves you like a servant is the greatest person among you. Every person that makes himself better than other people will be made humble. Every person that makes himself humble will be made great.

Matthew 23:1-12

Related Scripture Readings

Brothers and sisters, a person in your group might do something wrong. You people who are spiritual should go to the person who is sinning. You should help to make him right again. You should do this in a gentle way. But be careful! You might be tempted to sin, too. Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you truly obey the law of Christ. If a person thinks that he is important when he is really not important, he is only fooling himself. A person should not compare himself with other people. Each person should judge his own actions. Then he can be proud for what he himself has done. Each person must accept his own responsibility.

Galatians 6:1-5

You might think you are religious (good). But if you say things you should not say, then you are fooling yourself. Your "religion" is worth nothing. The kind of religion (worship) that God accepts is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help, and keeping yourself free from the world's {evil} influence. This is the kind of religion (worship) that God accepts as pure and good.

James 1:26-27

God has given me a special gift. That is why I have something to say to every person among you. Don't think that you are better than you really are. You must see yourself like you really are. Decide what you are by the kind of faith God has given you. Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don't all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body. And each part of that body belongs to all the other parts. We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace (kindness) that God gave us. If a person has the gift of prophecy, then that person should use that gift with the faith he has. If a person has the gift of serving, then that person should serve. If a person has the gift of teaching, then that person should teach. If a person has the gift of comforting other people, then that person should comfort. If a person has the gift of giving to help other people, then that person should give freely. If a person has the gift of being a leader, then that person should work hard when he leads. If a person has the gift of showing kindness to other people, then that person should be glad to do that.

Romans 12:3-8

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.