April 22, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Mark 12:38-40

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

I remember going bouldering for the first time with a group of friends. It was fun learning the basics and trying to figure out how to climb the different parts of the wall. As we were resting, my friends shared funny stories of experienced climbers who loved to show off their skills by climbing the part of the wall that others failed to do. It would be in such a way to make sure everyone saw that they could do something no one else could. For them, it was not enough to be good at something; they had to make sure others recognized their abilities.  It was not enough to climb the wall, but they had to look good doing it for others.

We find something similar in this passage. Jesus condemns the type of religiosity that the scribes practiced. It was not really about God and loving people, but they used their piety to draw attention to themselves. They seemed godly but there was no actual substance of godly character. They prayed long prayers to show off their knowledge and oratory abilities. They took the best seats during meals and in the synagogues and walked around in long robes in order to be seen. Jesus did not approve of such practice of flashy religion—He rightfully condemns it.

The temptation to be ostentatious about our relationship with God and religious practice still exists today. Many of us use ministry and the church to draw attention to ourselves—we desire positions of leadership to feel important and superior to others. In other words, we can have ungodly intentions that are fulfilled and masked with ministry. It happens all the time. And for this reason, we have to remain vigilant about our motivations. We must intentionally remain tethered to God and abide in Christ as we do ministry. Without intimacy with God, ministry can often devolve into something ungodly. In prayer, come before God and ask Him to help you to minister and live out your calling with the right motivations and with much humility.

Prayer: Father, I want to confess that my desires and motivations are often a mixed bag, even when it comes to ministry and service in the church. Purify my heart and help me to serve with pure intentions and motives.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Thessalonians 3

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