Our scripture this week is Matthew 23:1-12.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father–the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

After long debate with the religious leaders, Jesus addresses the crowd. He wants them to understand that while they should hear the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees, their example is not to be followed. They send a mixed message because their actions don’t match their words.

Sadly, we still see this in our society today. The advice to “practice what we preach” often goes unheeded. If we advocate a certain behavior from others, it must be something we are willing to do as well.

Jesus teaches us to be humble servants of God’s kingdom, obeying and teaching His way to all. Our faith must be one of belief and action, knowing and following God’s commandments. Only when our thoughts, words and behavior match His will we be truly His children.

Gracious God, we hear the lesson but it is hard for us to put it into practice. Help us resolve our disagreements and disobedience, to be energetic followers of Christ. Amen.

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