“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.
Matthew 23:2,3 (ESV)
The scribes and Pharisees had an addiction problem. The were addicted to power and being “right”. Jesus calls them to task about this in the seven woes he calls down on them in Matthew 23. Jesus said to his audience to listen to what they say, and do it, but don’t be like them, because they don’t practice what they preach. They are hypocrites. So much of what the scribes and Pharisees taught was right and true, yet they themselves didn’t act on their own teachings.
Jesus frustrated them, because he saw through their facade. He knew what really drove them to do and teach the things they did, and this brought them great discomfort. He challenged them overcome their addiction to being right, and to start living right.
So many times they thought they were so right in their interpretation of the law and traditions that they thought that they had Jesus right where they wanted him and could prove to his followers how wrong he was. But, Jesus always turned the tables on them and pointed out the error of their ways.
Ultimately their addiction drove them to ruin, because they didn’t respond to Jesus teachings that would have led them out of their craving to be right. Instead they chose to persecute, prosecute, and execute the one that was showing them the way to spiritual recovery.
Jesus teachings on the scribes and Pharisees are recorded for our benefit. His teachings are a warning against hypocrisy. We too can become addicted to being “right” , and in so doing we may shut the kingdom of heaven in the face of others, and run the risk of not staying in the kingdom ourselves. We must remember as we seek to teach the full counsel of God, that we are doing our best to live out what we are teaching.
As we have received mercy, and grace in Christ we must extend it to others in our representation of the truth of God’s word. Let’s not be addicted to being right, but be thankful that because of Jesus we are righteous. Let’s model the truth we teach, and respond to others as Jesus would.
© 2014 leo J. Woodman