Formations Lesson for July 25- Walk Humbly
July 14 2010 by Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham

Focal passage: Matthew 23:1-12

I tell my congregation to call me “Don” or “Pastor Don.” When we begin Sunday morning worship services I don’t usually have a place to sit because the choir and special announcers have all the seats on the platform. I sit on a front pew, a vacant seat in the choir, or sometimes on the floor of the platform. I wear an “old fashioned suit,” instead of a robe. No phylacteries either. I try to act humble since it is a Christian virtue, but I’ll confess, I feel good when someone comes  to me and says, “I’m going to call you Dr. Gordon because you have an earned doctorate and you should be recognized for it.” 

Matthew 23:1-12 is an indictment on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, but with a few word changes it could be read to ministers in any age, from any denomination.

It’s the opening prelude to an avalanche of “woes” spewed out against these hypocritical religious leaders. These leaders have adopted the role of authoritative interpreter of religious teaching which commoners must accept.

They teach about love, kindness, and humility but act out of self-interest, callousness, and pride (v. 3).

They call for great sacrifice from their constituents, but live in ease and luxury (v. 4).

They are quick to get in front of a camera so they can cash in on the cult of celebrity. The clothes they wear and the words they speak are chosen with calculation to enhance their image and impression of super piety (v. 5).

They love sitting at the head table at banquets and in the tallest seat in the sanctuary (v. 6). When they go downtown for lunch they love it when the other customers call them “Doctor” or “Reverend” and whisper to each other about how extraordinary their leadership is (v. 7).

After this litany of embarrassing exposures, Jesus turns to his disciples and teaches them a different, more humble way to live.

Don’t let anyone call you rabbi, father or teacher. There’s only one master and you are to be like brothers. There is only one father in heaven, so don’t pretend to be God.

Only Christ is the teacher, so go by another name. What name are we to use? Servant! Whoever wants to be great will become a servant, someone willing to make the community, church, and world a better place with no thought for recognition.

Humility is not the same thing as obscurity. It’s grounded in a lifestyle of servanthood — out front or in the background — that cares more for God and others than it does for its own glory.     
7/14/2010 3:37:00 AM by Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.