19 October 2014

posted 16 Oct 2014, 23:54 by C S Paul

19 October 2014

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Fifth Sunday after The Festival of the Cross

Gospel Reading for this Sunday - Matthew 23:1-12
New King James Version (NKJV)

Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees

23 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 

saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 

Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 

For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 

But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 

They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 

greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 

But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 

Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 

10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 

11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 

12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Pride, Ego and Hypocrisy 

by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil

Bhagavat Gita, in Ch. XIV.4 reads, "Hypocrisy, pride, self-conceit, wrath, arrogance and ignorance belong to those born to the heritage of the demons."

Message: The religious leaders of Jesus' day, and some today as well, wanted (or want) to be looked at and treated as though they are a step closer to God than are others. They wanted others to think they had some special privileges in God's eyes that the common man doesn't posses. Jesus said these men dress up in style to draw attention to themselves and expect men to obey rules they themselves wouldn't obey. These religious leaders want to be robed in special decorative titles. They want to be addressed as Rabbis. They demand obedience to the authority they portray.

Jesus says God is not impressed with the pride of these men. If you want to be somebody, put others before you. Become great by becoming a servant. Although pride harms only the proud, it brings contempt for others when the ego is inflated. Pride coupled with inflated ego and arrogance often results in contempt for others and frequently offend friends, relatives, colleagues and everyone who comes in contact with him.

Likewise, we all want to impress on others, want to be seen as successful, and of course, better than others. We all want recognition, high positions, power, money, and so forth. Most of us are braggers of our own achievements. Most of us want to be the lead dogs.

This desire to be first or be the best has a name called, "Pride". Jesus tells us what he thinks about those who want to be first. Jesus says, "First will be the last and the last will be the first." Just like the Pharisees, many among us want to be seen as special and treated as closer to God than anyone else. The Pharisees dressed to draw attention to themselves on a higher level than others. They tried to appear religious without actually being religious. Jesus said they do not practice what they preach. Their philosophy was, "Do as I say, not as I do." Jesus spent a great deal of time uncovering the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. Jesus told his followers, "Do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they preach." Hypocrisy is when someone pretends to be something his is not.

A pastor in a small church asked a member who quit attending services in his church, as to why he is not coming to church? He replied that most of those who attend there are hypocrites. The pastor replied, "May be it is true, but there is always room for one more." It does beg one big question: "Are there hypocrites in our church today?" Yes, there are plenty. Why? Pride and ego make people become hypocrites. We all pretend to be somebody we are not. We are too proud to admit that we are not better than others. Like the Pharisees, we may be able to fool others and be looked up to. In reality, there is nothing to gain by pretending to be what we are not.

As we see in the Bible, God prefers a humbler person who thinks like what God thought than a proud person who cares about how others thought of him. How can we achieve that goal?

1. Make scripture, not others, our standard for life.

2. Avoid living a "showcase" life. Do not seek or go after honor, titles, or approval from people. If you deserve it, it will come to you without you seeking it.

3. Work on developing a Servant's heart. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

It was true in Jesus' time, and it is true today.