Excuse Number One
by Rev. Brian Mathis
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1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.4 They crush people with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra-long tassels. 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues.7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’ 8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. 9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.11 The greatest among you must be a servant.12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.13 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either. 15 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!
Matt 23:1-15 (NLT)
Yes that is a lot of scripture and you can probably guess what God has placed on my heart today. The number one reason people give for not attending church is; it is full of hypocrites. You know that is true and I can be one of them myself and so can anyone else who forgets why we come together in a place like a church or fellowship. You see it is easy for us as people to think we have all the answers and if we are exposed to anything long enough we will try to provide them even when they are not asked for. You ever try to give someone unsolicited advice? They may politely listen to you and then avoid you for the next couple of weeks or they might become angry and fight with you. That is at the heart of what a hypocrite is. By definition it is a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings, as a Christian we should not lay burdens on those who come into the presence of God desiring to be in relationship with Jesus. Yet we do, we often forget that at some point in our own lives we were as lost and undone as everyone else. We often forget that had it not been for the grace and mercy that has been shown us by God through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus and Christian people who did not judge us but instead showed us the love that God had graced them with we would still be lost and on our way to hell. Let me close with these verses from Zechariah:
8 Then this message came to Zechariah from the LORD: 9 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.
Zechariah 7:8-10 (NLT)
No matter how good the preaching is or the music we should always remember that we come to worship God not man when we join together in a church or fellowship. Our lives should always reflect the grace and mercy we have received even though we were not worthy of it. Than that should be what we show to others. It just dawned on me that this may seem hypocritical to those reading it. If so I apologize and ask forgiveness. This excuse we use and hear holds no water because our worship is not based on any person who might be in the church it is based on the God who brought you and me an opportunity for salvation. Have a blessed day as you walk in the light of God’s word.
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