As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
You’ve met people like this.
You’ve probably never met a teacher of the law, but you’ve met people that think they’re better than everybody else. They may not walk around in flowing robes, but they have an air of superiority around them. They expect, even demand, to be treated better than everybody else. After all, they ARE better than everybody else.
They deserve to jump in line at the front, after all, their time is more important than yours. Remember when you got arrived someplace for help and you went to the back of the line? You waited, moving forward one person at a time, until you came to the front. And then that magic moment came when someone was available to help you. You walk up and start working together, figuring out what happened, how to solve your problem.
And then it happened.
Someone walks up, without waiting in line, interrupts you and the person helping you to “just ask a quick question.” You waited in line, but they don’t have that requirement. Their time is oh so much more valuable and important than yours.
But not just more important than your time, but the time of everyone that’s in line. They are stealing from you and everyone else in line because of their status.
These teachers also steal. Not just with their self-importance, but they steal from the most vulnerable, those who have no one to defend or speak up for them. They steal from widows. When the husband died, these teachers became administrators of their estate and swindled it from the defenseless widow.
These are not nice people. They are “religious” to be sure, they put on a show for all to see. They make their prayers long and with lots of fancy words that are meant to impress people. But God,s not impressed.
How do you impress God? By how much you do? How much you give? By the bumper stickers on your car? By the size of the Bible you carry?
Here’s what will absolutely, always get God’s attention.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You take no pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
You want to get God to pay attention to you? It’s not about bringing a sacrifice, doing something for God. But it’s about what’s going on inside your heart. Inside your spirit.
How does your prayer life sound? Like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” Or does your prayer life sound more like this? “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
It’s a big difference. The first prayer certainly sounds like it could have come from many people that fill lots of churches with their self-professed uniqueness and superiority. Or they stay away from houses of worship because they are better than those hypocrites.
The fact is that we all are overly proud of ourselves. Our accomplishments. And even our spirituality. We’re not just different. We’re better. We’re superior.
And that’s a problem.
Look at Jesus. The only one who has the right to be superior, because he actually is. He’s the one and only, unique son of God. He’s also God the son, God from eternity past who came not to be worshiped, but to serve. To feed the hungry. Wash dirty feet. Touch and heal the sick. Raise the dead.
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
How are you doing with watching out for Jesus? Watching out for opportunities to serve and give?
 Luke 18:11-13