Many comedians who make us laugh the most come from souls of high insecurity and emotional sadness. “It’s all an act” to entertain us. In real life, many comics are depressed and struggle to grasp reality in their popularity. They use comedy as avoidance of dealing with reality.
Actors who become someone else other than themselves speak their lines boldly and confidently because they have great memories. They, too, avoid reality to play a part bigger than themselves and different than their dire circumstances. Great actors put all their being into the role they play to the point that sometimes they believe who they are acting to be. We believe it, too. As a child, I really thought my hero, Superman, was real and could fly! Who didn’t wear a towel for a cape and ride your bikes to simulate flying through the air like he did? Oh, did I reveal a secret? We learn that many of these actors are shy and withdrawn off the stage and need a script to relate to people. They only play a role given to them for money and fame.
“All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”, Shakespeare writes as a commentary on life. There are those who fantasize so much about being someone else these days that they don’t know who they are anymore. They want to be rich so they follow rich people around trying to be like them, do what they do, wear what they wear only to learn that rich people don’t always have it together either and quickly lose all that was gained in this world by a mere market turn or crash.
There are those who act good and right so they can get the attention of the world around them. They spew hate and sarcasm towards mankind but put on smiles for a photo op as they give a backpack full of supplies to a needy student or write a check to a non-profit.
There are those who will volunteer at God’s house only for reasons of satisfying their own need to be needed or to gain recognition for doing good. It’s all about them and not about helping others for God’s glory. According to Jesus, they are serving only themselves which is not serving at all, at least, not by the standards He demonstrated while on earth. “I came to serve, not to be served”, says Jesus to all who heard and understood. If we serve to serve self, then it is MEnistry, not ministry.
Jesus was not an actor. Jesus was Who He said He was, is and always will be. Jesus, who knew hearts before and during ACTions, reveals the play actors in this passage. God as not part of the religious leaders’ “act” any longer. They acted on their own power, by their own means, for their own glory.
A Warning Against Hypocrisy
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
The phrase “practice what you preach” is said in many places all over the world. I wonder how many know this phrase, along with “everything you do is for people to see”, comes from Jesus admonition to the Teachers of the God’s Law?
How many servant leaders today work alongside their team to get the work accomplished or just assign the work to be accomplished without lifting a finger to help? We don’t like to follow leaders like that do we? We like to follow those who are “with us” in the work, doing their part.
Attention getters spout the Word without living the Word. What IS a phylactery? It is a small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law. They wore (and wear) it on their head! The more tassels they wore signified greater importance, or so they thought. Jesus called them out on both traditions.
Jesus taught his disciples, (and those who will follow) “But you…” will not ACT like this. There is only ONE Teacher, ONE Father, ONE Instructor, the Messiah. HE is God and we are not.
Then Jesus clarifies what a true leader must be before doing anything of significance in His Kingdom: “Humble yourselves”.
We have learned a lot today about what servant leadership looks like and how to begin living as a contributing member of God’s Kingdom which is opposite of worldview thinking and acting. Believers serve in humility. Believers serve for God’s glory. Believers serve because we love Him. True, honest believers serve because “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (2 Samuel 15:22).
Stop the play acting and get back to basics. We are not fooling Jesus with our “act”.
Repent of mere acting to get by and pray to be who God created us to be. Do not perform, only obey. Give all the glory to God. Reward comes later in heaven when Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
So…How is my serve?
Evaluate the conditions in which you serve.
What is my true identity in Christ?
Why do I serve?
What is my attitude when I serve?
For clarification, what does the Lord God require?
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
YOU are GOD and I am not. I come to you with honest evaluation. Cleanse my heart, my thinking and behaving of anything that has been offensive to you and stunts my spiritual growth. Keep me focused on your will and direction even when the world around me goes a different path. Keep me from doing harm to anyone but use me to encourage, to act justly and love mercy. I am humbled by Your Word today. My desire is walk so closely with you that I hear the mere whisper of your voice. I am your servant. Thank you, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen