Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | March 26, 2014

march 26, 2014 “Arrogant Action and Prayer-less Pursuits”

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13)

Good Morning My Friends and Partners in Ministry!

It is always a bit of a shock when someone generally known for a sweet, gentle, loving nature suddenly turns indignant…perhaps even angry. I had a high school teacher (who shall remain unidentified), who, when in a good mood, was funny, sweet, kind, and just a delight. But then there were days when crossing her path would invite an outpouring of  vitriol upon the hapless student unwise enough to raise her ire. In a way, she reminds me of Jesus as we discover Him in the Word.

   Generally, when we think of Christ, it is more along the lines of  “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” rather than the outspoken, incensed Lord we find confronting the religious leaders of his day. But Jesus was not one to sit back meekly when His father was being maligned or misrepresented, especially by those who were regarded as custodians of the sacred, as were the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. He held nothing back, calling them hypocrites who, instead of leading people into the loving presence of His Father, were actually slamming the door of the kingdom in their faces, and in doing so, even blocking their own way in! To Jesus, this was the epitome of arrogance on their part, as well as being hypocritical, for they were being duplicitous, and duplicity, that is, dishonesty, is the purview of the Enemy. It’s Satan’s work…not God’s. Was Jesus’ anger justified? Absolutely. Does it cause us to rethink his genuineness regarding his love? I think not.  Justified anger at wrong behavior and deception is an act of love. Jesus is angry because of his love, not despite it! Christian author Jose Zayas observed:

“Action without prayer is arrogance, prayer without action is hypocrisy.”

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were both arrogant and hypocritical. Oh, they prayed. They made sure people knew they prayed. In fact, they often made a show of it. But their actions were not prayerful or prayer-led, and their praying was hypocritical and ineffective…even offensive. What are we to learn from this? Pretentious praying is not pleasing to God. Defining particular acts as being noble without seeking God’s direction before engaging in them is arrogant. In the book of Micah we read, 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) Justice, mercy, and humility are what God requires, not arrogant action or prayer-less pursuits. Let’s pray!

Holy and merciful God: In Your abounding love, You instruct us as to that which is most pleasing to You. May we humbly and joyfully do those things that are most pleasing, most uplifting, and most desirable to share Your Good news with all around us, today and every day. This we pray in Jesus’ Name! Amen!

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