This devotional is about Luke 20:45-47: “While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 ‘Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.'”
Do you have a role model? Is there someone you look up to, someone whose life you’ve patterned your life after? Did you want to be like one of your parents or grandparents as you were growing up? Is there someone whose career you’ve emulated?
What about in your spiritual life? Do you have any spiritual role models–someone who led you to Christ or someone else who discipled you? Maybe you look up to a pastor or author whose work has been helpful to you in your walk with God?
There is nothing wrong with admiring someone else and patterning your life after theirs. In fact, there are many good things about it. A good mentor can help you avoid making mistakes in your life or career or walk with God by showing you some of the mistakes they’ve made or have seen others make. A good example can help you apply God’s word to your life when you’re not sure what to do in a certain situation.
The problem with heroes is not that we have them but that we choose them poorly. Here in Luke 20, Jesus cautioned the disciples not to choose the teachers of the law as their heroes. In fact, Jesus told the disciples to “Beware” of them. The scribes were people who had studied God’s law and had copied it by hand so that God’s word could be preserved and disseminated. They wrote commentaries about scripture and could apply to people’s lives. They could write contracts and were supposed to help people know what God’s will was, based on the Law. Every town had scribes and, because they were better educated and consulted for their expertise, may people looked up to them.
The scribes liked the attention and status that being a scribe gave them, so they cultivated that attention can continually sought more of it. That’s why Jesus said in verse 46, “They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.” Their clothes (“flowing robes”) called attention to themselves. They had high expectations about how people would speak to them (“…love to be greeted with respect,” v. 46) and where people would seat them (“…the most important seats,” v. 46). They also acted spiritually for attention because Jesus said, “…for a show [they] make lengthy prayers” in verse 47. It would be easy to look up to men who were so learned, so dignified, and so spiritual.
But, Jesus said, these scribes “devour widows’ houses” (v. 47). This means that they used God’s law to exploit people who were weak and unable to retaliate. They could string some of God’s commands together or use logic to create “principles” that allowed some to take advantage of others. Instead of being servants and wise leaders to God’s people, they made themselves powerful and used their power for their own benefit.
Business leaders and politicians in our times find ways to do this. Did you ever wonder how someone could be a U. S. senator for decades, making a good but not lavish government salary, and yet become a multimillionaire? Isn’t it interesting that billionaires fly in private jets all over the world but cry about how fossil fuels and consumerism are destroying the planet?
What about pastors who buy expensive homes, drive new luxury cars, and live well while telling people that they need to give more? Many people look to others for leadership but our “leaders” are experts in seeking attention, promoting themselves, and getting rich at the expense of taxpayers and faithful givers.
Some people who lived this way get exposed in the media. But other people who live this way may die with their wealth and respect in tact. Jesus said, “These men will be punished most severely” (v. 47). Each of us must stand before a holy God who knows everything we did, how we’ve lived, as well as all of our reasons and motivations. There will be justice for self-centered hypocrites who expose others, but it may not happen in this life.
Still, Jesus told his disciples to “beware” of such people. That means you and I should be careful about who we admire. Do our heroes work hard to look and seem heroic? Do they seek attention more than they seek to do good work, to cultivate personal godliness, and sincerely help others?
What about us? Do we do things to get attention and seek the admiration of others? God knows our hearts and our motives. We must ask him to reveal and root such pride out of us and give us genuine hearts to love and serve him.