WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JANUARY 7, 2022
TOPIC: CHRISTIANITY IS NOT FOR SHOW
BY T. O. BANSO
“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear extra long tassels on their robes” (Matthew 23:5 New Living Translation).
Christianity is not playing to the gallery. It is not acting to impress others. Christianity is not seeking the applause of men. It is not doing anything purposely to attract people’s attention. Christianity is living for an audience of one – God – through faith in Jesus Christ. It is living your life according to the Word of God. It is living up to God’s standards. Christianity is not looking good; it is doing good. It is not looking holy but being holy. It is not pretending to be who you are not; it is being sincere.
During the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, there was a marked difference between Him and the scribes and the Pharisees, not only in their teachings but in their behaviour. Jesus, particularly, pointed out their hypocrisy or insincerity. Everything they did was for show – for men to see them. They sought people’s attention and honour in different ways. You must be careful that you don’t practise Christianity this way. Christianity is not first and foremost external; it is internal. It is not first how you look outwardly but inwardly. The inward transformation will influence the outward appearance.
In Matthew 23, Jesus said the scribes and the Pharisees did not do what they taught the people (verse 3b). They bound heavy burdens, hard to bear, and laid them on the people’s shoulders; but they would not move them with one of their fingers (verse 4).
Verse 5 says, “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear extra long tassels on their robes” (New Living Translation). Take note of the phrase: “Everything they do is for show.” They were just acting, not real. They appeared righteous but were not. Their focus was just getting the people’s attention and approval; they were not focused on God or seeking to please Him. They made a show of everything.
This should not be your lifestyle as a Christian. Christianity is not a stage performance. You should be real and seek to please God, not men. Don’t just look good; do good. Don’t appear righteous, be righteous. Don’t look holy; be holy. Live a holy life.
The New King James Version renders Matthew 23:5 thus; “But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments” (New King James Version). They made their phylacteries broader and enlarge the borders of their garments to give the impression that they were special and holier than others or more religious.
What are phylacteries? According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “They consisted of strips of parchment on which were inscribed these four texts: (1.) Ex. 13:1-10; (2.) 11-16; (3.) Deut. 6:4-9; (4.) 11:18-21, and which were enclosed in a square leather case, on one side of which was inscribed the Hebrew letter shin, to which the rabbis attached some significance. This case was fastened by certain straps to the forehead just between the eyes.” It says that making their phylacteries broad refers to the enlarging of the case to make it conspicuous.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary also talks about another form of phylactery consisting of two rolls of parchment, on which the same texts were written, enclosed in a case of black calfskin. It is called the “Tephillah on the arm” and was worn on the left arm near the elbow, to which it was bound by a thong.
Jesus said the scribes and the Pharisees loved the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi” (verses 6-7). They wanted the place of distinction, prominence, or recognition at feasts and in the synagogues and attention in the market where multitudes gathered. Mark 12:38-39 also refers to this. The honour people gave them was their goal. They loved high or big titles. They were ego-trippers. Jesus warned His followers against these.
The scribes and the Pharisees did everything for show hence Jesus called them hypocrites. In Matthew 23, Jesus pointed out many things they did that showed they were hypocrites. In this chapter alone, He referred to them as hypocrites seven times. In verses 25-28, Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (New King James Version).
The scribes and Pharisees only appeared outwardly righteous; they were inwardly filthy – whitewashed tombs which appeared beautiful outwardly, but inside were full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. They were not what they presented themselves to be. They sought men’s approval, not God’s approval. Christians should not behave like this.
Jesus warns, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward” (Matthew 6:1-2 New King James Version).
Jesus says when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (verses 3-4). To do contrary to what Jesus says is to walk in the way of the scribes and the Pharisees.
When you pray, don’t pray for show or to show off; don’t pray so that people can notice you or be aware that you’re praying. Don’t pray so that people will know you can quote scriptures or you can pray long! Are you praying to God or man? Is it a man who will answer your prayer or God? Jesus further warns, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:5-7 New King James Version).
This is the season of fasting. It is the New Year and many people are fasting. But don’t fast like the Pharisees or else your fasting will be in vain. Don’t fast like the hypocrites who fast for show – to be noticed and respected. “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:16-18 New King James Version).
I’m sure you remember that Pharisee, who was proud before God because, among other things, he fasted twice a week and gave tithes of all that he possessed. But it was the tax collector who acknowledged he was a sinner that went home justified, not the self-conceited Pharisee (Luke 18:12).
Christianity is not for show or show off. It is not pretending. It is being a doer of the Word, not a hearer alone. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25 New King James Version).
Christianity is not pleasing men or eyeservice. It is pleasing God. Paul said in Galatians 1:10 that if he were still pleasing men, he would not be a bondservant of Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 2:4, he also said, “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts” (New King James Version). Furthermore, he told bondservants, to obey in all things their masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in the sincerity of heart, fearing God. (Colossians 3:22)
Be a Christian, not a hypocrite. A Christian is not a hypocrite; a hypocrite is not a Christian. If you’re not yet born again, don’t pretend you are. In other words, you’re not yet a Christian. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3 New King James Version). He further told Nicodemus, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again” (verse 7 New King James Version). Are you marvelled that you need to be born again?
Practise the truth you preach and walk in the truth you’ve been taught or you’ve learnt. “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 3-4 New King James Version). Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of any way I have been a hypocrite. From now, I will be a Christian. I will be a doer of Your Word and not a hearer alone. Holy Spirit, help me to please God and not seek to please human beings. I will not burden my listeners with impossible religious demands but preach the truth. Holy Spirit, help me to practise the truth that I preach and help the people also to walk in the truth I teach them.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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