The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted"

Scripture: Matthew 23:1-12

1 Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. 4 They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, 7 and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. 11 He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; 12 whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Meditation: Does your practice match your talk?  Jesus chides the scribes and Pharisees for their showy practices.  In a way they wanted to be good models of observant Jews.  See how well we observe all the ritual rules and regulations of our religion! In their misguided zeal for religion they sought respect and honor for themselves rather than for God and for his word.  They made the practice of their faith a burden rather than a joy for the people they were supposed to serve.  Respect for God and his ways inclines us to Godly humility and simplicity of heart.  The word disciple means one who listens in order to learn.  Jesus shows us the way to the Father -- the way of peace, joy, righteousness, holiness, and true happiness.  He showed us the way by lowering himself as a servant for our sake.  He humbled himself, even to death on a cross, that we might be raised up and exalted at the Father's right hand in heaven (Phil. 2:1-11).  What is true Christ-like humility? Humility is true self-knowledge -- regarding oneself as God see each of us.  The humble do not trust in themselves, but trust in God and in the power of his love and saving grace.  True humility is a servant-like quality which enables one to place his or her life at the service of God and others.  Do you know the joy of Christ-like humility and simplicity of heart?

"Lord, teach me your way of servanthood and humility that I may walk in love as you have loved.  Fill me with the joy of servanthood that I may inspire others to walk in your way of happiness and holiness."

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(c) 2002 Don Schwager