Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God wants His people to obey Him with godly hearts. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to obey God’s word with godly hearts.
Read Matthew 23:2-7
I. Prideful Prominence. In our Sunday School material Jesus talks about the teachers of the Law and Pharisees. Even though they don’t practice what they preach, the truth that they share should be followed. They are known for loving essentially the attention of people.
- Living by the truth. Notice in vss. 3-4 that Jesus teaches about following the truth, even if the messenger is not practicing what he/she preaches.
First, we should live by the truth, even when the messenger is not right. There are too many people who excuse themselves from doing what the Pastor says because they are aware of some of the Pastor’s sins.
Second, since all believers are to be witnesses, we should all strive to live by God’s word. It is distracting for us to talk about God being loving and we are known for being unloving. Let’s work on living by the truth that we hear and share with others.
- Godly motives. Notice in vss. 5-7 that Jesus teaches about having the right motive. First, Jesus did not have a problem talking about the wrong doing of teachers of the Law and Pharisees (see Mk. 12:38-40 also), in His public teaching/preaching.
Some people are examples of “what to do” and some are examples of “what not to do.” The teachers of the Law and Pharisees were examples of “what not to do,” and Jesus used their example for His godly purpose.
In like manner, there are times when the current events of our day (inside and outside the church) can be helpful in making a godly point.
Second, a key point being made it to make sure that your motive is right. You can do the right thing for the wrong reason. There is a difference between doing something just so you can be appreciated by people and doing something to be seen by people, so God can get the glory as taught in Matthew 5:13-16.
Jesus died a public death (not a private one), but He did it so the Father would be glorified. He prayed publicly at Lazarus’ grave for the sake of the people and for the Father’s glory. Let’s work on doing what we do for godly motives.
Read Matthew 23:8-12
II. Humble Servanthood. Jesus teaches against self-exaltation in our Sunday School material. God is to be exalted. The people of God are called to humble service.
- What do you mean? Notice in vss. 8-10 that Jesus teaches against assigning people the honor that is only appropriate for God. In order to apply this Sunday School material appropriately, you should ask what do you mean by the title that you are using?
If you mean the title holder is equal with God, don’t use that term. If you mean something much less than something equal God then the term is fine. Without this understanding, we can commit the sin of disrespecting or offending people.
Think about how God is the Doctor of doctors, the Judge of judges, and King of kings. And yet we call doctors “doctor,” judges “judge,” and kings “king.”
Think further about how the Bible teaches submission to human authorities in Hebrews 13:17 and Romans 13:1-5. Let’s make sure we avoid the sin of putting anyone on the same level as God.
- Humble service. Notice in vss. 11-12 the idea of humble service being the road to greatness from God’s perspective, and how self-exaltation leads to imposed humility (if not humiliation).
First, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be great. As believers we are called to make sure our methods are godly. The way for a believer to be great, in God’s eyes, is to engage in humble service. We need more great people in our families, churches, and communities.
Second, self-exaltation can lead to imposed humility (or humiliation). When we think about how all that we have comes from the Lord, by His grace, we should not find it difficult to be humble. Let’s work on being people of humble service.
Read Mark 12:38-40
III. Cruel Pretenders. Jesus is talking about the teachers of the Law in our Sunday School material. They love to be seen. They devour the widows’ houses. But punishment is planned for them.
- Godly motives. Notice in vss. 38-40, as noted above, we should make sure that our motives are godly. What we wear and how long we prayer are deemed good or bad, based on our motives. God knows our motives, and we should strive to please Him.
We may be able to fool the people, but we will discover that they are really not worth impressing, especially if we anger God in the process. Let’s working on having godly motives.
Read Mark 12:41-44
IV. Trustful Generosity. Jesus comments on the people’s giving in our Sunday School material. The wealthy gave a significant amount out of their wealth. However, Jesus commends a poor widow for giving little out of her poverty.
- Giving. Notice in vss. 41-44 that Jesus watched who gave what and how much they gave. Furthermore, He commended the widows sacrificial giving, instead of stopping her.
First, instead of fighting against the accountability systems that most churches have, we should be more concerned about what God sees when we give.
Our amount and attitude should bring glory to God, but they don’t, if the amount is too low and/or our attitude is less than cheerful and one that places its trust in God.
God wants equal sacrifice, not equal amount of giving. One of the great thing about tithing is that 10% is the same sacrifice for the rich and poor.
Second, Jesus commended the widows giving all that she had, instead of stopping her. This is probably because Jesus knew that there are blessings in giving to God. Thus, to stop the poor from giving is to stop them from receiving the blessings of giving.
Let’s work on giving in ways that bring glory to God, which means our amount and attitudes need to be right in God’s sight.
Conclusion: Let’s work on obeying God with godly hearts. God has much for those who obey His will.Please click here to let us know, if this has been quality and helpful information for you (i.e., make sure you let us know the name of the article). Feel free to share your questions and comments about the article as well.