9 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Joshua 22:21–23:16
Luke 20:27-47
Psalm 89:14-37
Proverbs 13:17-19

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Luke 20:45-47 (CSB): “While all the people were listening, he said to his disciples, ‘Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes and who love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and say long prayers just for show. These will receive harsher judgment.'”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

The three verses I chose as our Verses for Today are pregnant with truth.

We could talk about how Jesus, who was the perfect example of how we are to love everyone around us, spoke harsh truth and exposed the Pharisees for who they really were.

We could talk about how those who abuse leadership, particularly those who distort God’s Word and/or fail to live a godly life, will receive a stricter judgment (see also James 3:1).

But, I want us to consider the nature of the offense that Jesus pointed out because, in principle, we are capable of doing the same things.

Let’s look at the offenses that Jesus point out:

“who want to go around in long robes”

Apparently, the scribes would wear robes that were much longer than what others were wearing. It seems, given the nature of the following accusations, that these extra-long robes were worn to bring attention to themselves.

It was self-serving and self-centered.

“who love greetings in the marketplaces,”

They loved to be recognized and honored as they went about their day among the “common people.” In fact, it would seem from Jesus’ words that since they loved these greetings in the marketplace, they would intentionally go to where the people were just to get their egos stroked.

It was self-serving and self-centered.

“(who love) the best seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets.”

They wanted to be honored. They wanted others to celebrate their status in the places of worship and at big gatherings. There wasn’t a humble bone in their body.

It was self-serving and self-centered.

“They devour widows’ houses and”

Some suspect that the scribes might have overseen the estate planning of the elderly widows. In some way, they would convince (or maybe even trick) the helpless widows to give their money and maybe even their homes to them since they were doing “God’s work.” Heartless!

It was self-serving and self-centered.

“say long prayers just for show.”

They prayed in the synagogues and on street corners, not to commune with God, but to impress those who were watching and listening.

It was self-serving and self-centered.

Clearly, Jesus is pointing out the sinful activities of the scribes. But, He really got to the heart of the matter. He kept bringing up instances that exposed a self-serving and self-centered heart. While they appeared to seek God’s glory, they were really only interested in stealing God’s glory and claiming it for themselves.

Do you think that this is a problem of us? Yep, it sure is.

Even more specifically, do you think it’s a problem in our worship gatherings? It certainly is.

Let me share some convictions that I have about this:

1. What happens on the platform should direct our attention to the Lord

A couple of weeks ago, Tanna Roberson and Tate Burris sang a worship song on a Sunday morning before I got up to preach. They were accompanied by our praise band.

IMG_7668
We love our Sunday afternoons! Our table is almost always full with family and friends. Tate is wearing the lite gray jacket in front of the window to the right.

After the service, I told Tate how much I enjoyed his duet. I specifically mentioned that I loved the fact that he didn’t ‘perform’ and draw my attention to him. Instead, he sang in such a way that freed me up to focus on the Lord. I shared the same thing with Tanna when she cut my hair last week.

I’ve heard far too many singers, instrumentalists, and preachers stand before a crowd, do their thing, and it was obvious that they were performing and they wanted the applause at the end.

They weren’t interested in God’s glory. They were only interested in their own. They were being a scribe.

Luke 20:46 (CSB): “Beware of the scribes,”

2. Be thoughtful in your applause

It’s not just the folks on the platform that have to watch their motives. Those of us in the pew need to be careful, too.

I am not against applauding in church. In fact, I’d rather be in a church that applauds than one where everyone is encouraged to sit on their hands and keep quiet. When a song moves me to worship, I want to applaud!

But, when we applaud in church, friends, it should not be because we enjoyed a performance. Instead, it should be because the one who sang or played the instrument did it in such a way that we were moved to worship. We applaud to express the joy we have in that worship experience.

If we are applauding because we like the performance, we are creating an environment in which scribes thrive.

Luke 20:46 (CSB): “Beware of the scribes,”

3. We all perform for an audience of One

Friend, my previous comments are not intended to imply that performance has no place in church. The truth is that we are all performing … or we should be.

As the Lord looks upon our worship gatherings, I am all too often afraid of what He sees:

  • When the congregation is encouraged to sing, there are people who fold their arms and refuse to “make a joyful noise” (regardless of their ability to carry a tune in a bucket) … and the Lord observes this.
  • When the congregation is called to a time of prayer, there are those who are thinking about what restaurant they will go to after the service, or they are surfing the net on their phone … and the Lord observes this.
  • When God’s Word is proclaimed, there are those who are mentally checked out and are failing to hear what God may be saying to them … and the Lord observes this.

Friend, whether we are on the platform during a worship service or are sitting in a pew, every last one of us is performing for an audience of One (the Lord Jesus).

If we show up to church regularly but our heart is not in it, then we might be attending to impress others or trying to gain points with God … and we would be acting like a scribe.

Luke 20:46 (CSB): “Beware of the scribes,”

Conclusion

It’s easy for us to read the Bible and condemn the scribes for their self-centered actions. But, it is quite possible that we are doing the same thing.

Ask God’s Holy Spirit to check your heart. Give Him permission to search your heart and bring to your attention any self-centered attitudes or behaviors that are making your worship displeasing to God. You may even want to ask a trusted friend if he or she sees anything in you of concern.

Just insist on not being a scribe that robs God of glory because you are claiming it for yourself. Don’t intentionally allow that “scribe-ish” atmosphere to be cultivated in your church.

God is worthy of all of the glory that we could give Him. Don’t touch the glory.