Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said, “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”
(Luke 20:45-47, NLT)
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
("Joy to the World," by Isaac Watts)
Today’s Reading: Luke 20
During His public ministry, Jesus spent a lot of time in the temple. Standing in a place where others could overhear Him, Jesus warned the disciples to beware of the religious leaders.
They dressed themselves up so they could look important. They loved being greeted in the marketplace because it made them feel important. They helped themselves to the best seats in the synagogue and at the feasts so everyone could see just how important they were.
They prayed long prayers so others would know how religious they were, and yet they took advantage of widows. In their quest to appear perfect, were they true to themselves and to the faith they professed?
Jesus didn’t mince words. In passages like Luke 11:37-54, He called them hypocrites. Instead of loving and serving others, they made sure others served them. Jesus promised they would be punished.
Part of being authentic is self-awareness. We are more like the religious leaders than we would like to admit. We have that same tendency toward hypocrisy. And though very few of us would identify as hypocrites, we want others to think more highly of us. Sometimes we forget to care enough about what God thinks of us.
As you prepare for Christmas, remember that Jesus loves you just the way you are. He’s not asking you to clean up your act before coming to Him. You can bring your real self to Him, just as you are. He knows all about your thoughts and actions.
His love for you includes the parts of you that hurt and the parts that aren’t yet what you wish they were. He offers forgiveness and hope when you exchange your sin for His forgiveness. Allow His grace to lay the firm foundation for your life.
As you prepare for Christmas, how can you turn your eyes toward Jesus? How can you face Him honestly and care more about what He thinks of you than what others think about you?
What is God’s grace? Explore more about what His grace is and why we all desperately need it.
Anne Marie Winz has followed Christ for 50 years. She’s married to Mark, has two adult children and enjoys teaching, drinking coffee, and birding. She’s also a staff member with Cru.
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