"Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others.'" - Matthew 23:1-5
In Jesus' final week before his crucifixion, he has a lot to say about the Jewish religious teachers. They are in a position of authority, so what they teach is to be respected by the Jewish people. However, Jesus says, the people are not to follow the lifestyle of these teachers. The scribes and Pharisees do not practice what they preach. Their motivation is popularity, praise, and power, not holiness, humility, and service. They load the people with regulations, but they don't really care about them.
There are warnings here for us: (1) as elders and pastors in the church, we are to practice what we preach; (2) we are not to load believers down with rules and regulations; (3) we are to be quick to help believers follow the way of God; and (4) our motivation must not be popularity, praise, or power, but holiness, humility, and service.
Father, being a pastor or elder is dangerous. If our motivation is popularity, praise, or power, we cannot please you, and we will likely bring great harm to the church. Help those of us who are in leadership positions to have a pure motivation. May we love the flock over which Jesus has entrusted us and care for it in a loving, gentle, and sacrificial way. May we set an example in holiness, righteousness, and purity. May we care deeply about the spiritual advancement of each member of our flock. If we are doing things for show, may we quickly repent and even quit, if necessary. May all we do be for the right reasons. Guard us from pride, Father. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman