“But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ."
Whereas Jesus welcomed all who came to Him, the Pharisees created an unapproachable and exclusive sect that elevated exterior appearance over internal change. While the public was impressed by their righteousness and thought they had earned God’s approval, what the Pharisees really wanted was the praise of men. This is evident in the rebukes Jesus continued to give. The Pharisees controlled their appearance—but to the detriment of their souls.
The lesson for believers today is an important one. Doing all the right things and being popular with the right people are not what’s most important to Jesus—your heart is. We all try and control what people see and think about us. Don’t believe it? Just think about what you do and don’t post on social media. While some parts of our lives are best kept private, what we share is done, in part, to create a certain narrative of who we are. It begs the question, why do we share what we share?
Look at your social media use over the last week. Who are you trying to teach people that you are? We all desire to control our image for good or bad reasons. Is it because we are afraid someone will think less of us? Or because we want to appear more religious than we truly are? Remember that the Pharisees were accepted religious leaders. As religious people, we must not miss what Jesus’ words. We need to resist the desire to control our appearance, and instead be genuine. This allows people to see the authentic work that Christ is doing in our hearts and lives.
- Where are you controlling your image? Why are you doing it?
- What would it take for you to be genuine in your faith, including being upfront about your struggles?
- Pray that God would reveal areas in your heart where you are seeking the approval of men through controlling your image.