2011 Advent Devotion- Thursday, December 8

Thursday, December 8
Matthew 23:13-26

The word hypocrite originally referred to an actor, someone who performed behind a mask. The meaning of the word evolved to the popular understanding of hypocrites being persons who pretend to be something they are not.

Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day) as hypocrites, because “they do not practice what they teach” (v. 3). Their words and actions are inconsistent. Consequently, they receive harsh criticism from Jesus. He does not want the crowds or his disciples to be deceived by them. When it comes to following the law, the scribes and Pharisees appear to be focused on minor violations of the law, but they are blind to major violations, which go by unnoticed. For example, they contribute ten percent of all their agricultural produce—even small herbs such as mint, dill, and cumin—to the temple and its priests. But they neglect “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.”

Are we guilty of the same thing? We like to think of ourselves as good and generous people, faithful Christians, law-abiding Americans. But how can we live as we do when half the world’s population is trying to survive on less than $2 a day?

PRAYER
Gracious and loving God, have mercy on us. Stir us from our comfort and complacency. Help us see the world through your eyes. And move us to respond with acts of justice and compassion. Amen.

Rev. Roger Scott Powers, pastor, Light Street Presbyterian Church, and consultant, Peace Discernment Steering Committee, PC(USA)
Baltimore, Maryland


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