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Monday 23 September 2019 – All Who Exalt Themselves will be Humbled

Matthew 23:1  Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2  “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3  therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4  They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5  They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. 6  They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, 7  and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. 8  But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. 9  And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father–the one in heaven. 10  Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. 11  The greatest among you will be your servant. 12  All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

It is thought that “to get ahead in life” an individual must find ways to be noticed. Useful avenues include occupying public office, association with the rich and powerful, or ostentatious donations to charity.  Twitter, Facebook and blogs are harnessed in pursuit of self-promotion, as the individual lets society know what an awesome person he or she is.

Matthew tells of Jesus’ criticism of such relentless self-promotion. He is scathing about the ego-gratifying strategies of the religious leadership of his day:  “They do all their deeds to be seen by others … phylacteries broad and their fringes long… the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.”  It was all about being seen to be important.

Sadly, I am watching how the office of the President of my country is being dishonoured by one who has used it to promote his own selfish ego.  Remember, says Jesus, “all who exalt themselves will be humbled.”  If we want to get ahead in the estimation of Jesus, then we are to humble ourselves and become the servants of all.

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.

The Servant Song,  by Richard Gillard of New Zealand,

Ordinary 22 / Pentecost +15

44 True Greatness

The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 271.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day
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“To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)