Message: Obey the authorities but don’t follow their hypocritic example. Do what is right because it is right, not as a PR show. Jesus was telling the people that because the scribes and Pharisees were occupying the “seat of Moses” by teaching the law, they needed to honor and obey the law, and the position of authority, but not to follow their example of corrupting the law. Needless to say, Jesus was not impressed by their religious show, and he was angry with the way they had created layers of impossible manmade rules for the people to follow while also doing evil and corrupt things that were hidden from view. He criticized them for creating a religious outer impression while doing evil things in secret.
As much as this was directed toward leaders and people of authority during that time, I see a huge parallel of this happening within the current American church. Not just with leaders (but certainly not excluding) but Christians as a whole in America are upholding an exterior appearance of godliness by pushing for biblical laws to be upheld in the laws and the courts of the land. At the very same time, many of the same Christians are not living godly lives themselves. They are criticizing unsaved people and trying to hold them to the standards of the word of God in the form of governmental law, but while doing so they are violating the very principles of the word of God in the way they treat people. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t vote for laws that reflect our spiritual convictions. What I am saying is that if our spiritual convictions cause us to despise people who don’t agree with it or live it, then we are seriously missing the point of it all.
Command: Obey the word of God and live a godly life without trying to polish an exterior PR type of reputation. Living a godly life will speak for itself and people will see that while not perfect, I am living a life consistent with what I say I believe while constantly evaluating and changing.
Promise: If I focus on living a godly life from the inside, this will show on the outside. My humility will increase and so will my compassion.
Warning: If my focus and concern is on my outer appearance and reputation, I will ignore important matters of the heart in my efforts to be seen. This will also increase my pride and decrease my compassion for people.
Application: Lord Jesus, please show me the things in my heart that are corrupting me. Help me to be more concerned with the things you are showing me, than how other people perceive me. Help me to change from the inside out and obey the things that you are showing me to do-regardless of what anyone else is saying or doing.