February 5, 2010
"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12 (NIV)
I love Stacie Orrico's song "Don't Look at Me." She sings, Don't look at me if you're looking for perfection. Don't look at me, I will only let you down. I'll do my best to point you in the right direction. Don't look at me, look at Him.
These lyrics remind me of a resounding theme I noticed recently in Mark 15:9-10, Matthew 23:1-39 and Luke 18:9-14: leaders who shined the spotlight on themselves. They had no interest in making Jesus the main attraction. God pulled a few lessons out of each passage for me to do the mirror test on my heart.
The problem that tripped up the leaders in Jesus' day might look familiar to you and me:
Lesson #1 - Envy
The chief priests were burning with envy over the popularity of Jesus. He had only been on the scene for three years, yet the marketplace was always buzzing with the latest Jesus story! Perhaps the chief priests wondered, Why is HE the center of attention? What makes HIM the authority figure?
Envy is a poison we may not even recognize. We give it a nicer title like "keeping up with the Jones" or "climbing the corporate ladder," but being upset with someone else's success is a bone-rotting toxin. Proverbs 14:30 confirms it saying, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones" (NIV).
Lesson #2 - Practice What You Preach
The leaders were busy barking legalistic orders to others, but didn't apply the rigid rules to their own lives. Legalism is a strict adherence to the law and rules, and usually packs a punch of guilt if the regulations aren't followed to the letter.
James 1:22 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (NIV). The leaders of Jesus' day had great amounts of scripture memorized, but did not live it out. They focused on the rules and making others follow them, rather than on pleasing God. If we are focusing on keeping rules and rituals, instead of building a relationship with Jesus, we too are missing the point. Maybe shifting our angle is in order. Look up. Let Bible study move us past just reciting scripture to allowing its life-giving Spirit to penetrate our actions.
Lesson #3 - All For Show
Dressing up and looking good made the Pharisees believe their own press. They seemingly had it all together. Do we act that way too? When asked, "How are you?" do we put on a happy face and respond, "Fine," when in fact, all is not fine? Do we fear what people will think or how they will react if they know we messed up again? It's easy to think, "My issues are nobody's business." Truth is, they are God's business because you belong to Him.
Lesson #4 - Clean The Inside
"Woe to you," Jesus repeated over and over to the Pharisees throughout Matthew 23. The junk that was brewing inside their hearts didn't resemble the righteous life they claimed to live.
Everyone sees our pretty outside attire, but God knows what's going on beneath the surface. When He cleans house, He starts on the inside.
What's lurking in your dark corners? If self indulgence, self-reliance, or self-centeredness has camped out in your heart, let the housecleaning begin! Soon your outer beauty will radiate your new inner beauty.
This mirror test revealed some junk in my life. What did you see in your reflection? A prideful heart, or a passion for Christ? Are you wanting others to look at you, rather than God? Psalm 10:4 says, "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." Pride is a venom. Making room for God takes deliberate action.
As the song says, "Don't look at me, look at Him."
Dear Lord, pride can camp out so easily in our hearts. Will you clean us from the inside out and let us reflect You? In Jesus' Name, Amen.
The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Brian T. Anderson and
Messy Faith: Daring to Live by Grace by A.J. Gregory
Write down all the things you don't possess that have captured your heart. Ask God to purify your heart and change your desires.
What do I use to measure myself?
When am I most prone to let envy master my mind?
How can I stop the comparisons?
Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (NIV)
Galatians 6:4, "Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else." (NIV)
© 2010 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105