Matthew 23: Hypocrites
I don’t know how many times I have heard or read about someone who left the church because of hypocrisy. Christians do not always practice what they preach. However, at the beginning of Matthew 23, I think that there is an important distinction that we need to make.
Mat 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
Mat 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The rest of the chapter goes on to talk about the hypocritical actions of the Pharisees and scribes. I call out this distinction because Jesus advises that the people should not give up on the Scripture that was being taught. The people were still supposed to follow the things of God, but they were not supposed to follow the works of those people who were being hypocritical.
I think this is a wise approach for us today. Christianity certainly teaches that all people will make mistakes. If we are preaching that becoming a Christian makes you a perfect person immediately, that is not true. We can be forgiven of all of our sins, but Christians do not become perfect here on earth.
Therefore, when there are times when Christians make bad decisions, we do not follow the works. If we see someone who is struggling with pride, we don’t want to follow him or her down that road. However, that does not mean that all Christianity needs to be tossed out. It is a combination of the perfect teaching of God and the imperfect messengers that you and I are as we try to advance the cause of Christ around the world.
It has been said that you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. In this case, it is certainly not wise to throw out God because of flawed people. The truth of Christianity does not depend on having perfect followers. It depends on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.