Religious Demands

Religious Demands

24 January 2015

Reading: Matthew 23; Proverbs 4


2 The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. (Matthew 23:2-4 NLT)

Competent teacher, but poor example. That’s a pretty heavy indictment against a religious leader. Jesus warned his friends that even though the religion scholars knew their stuff and communicated it competently, they shouldn’t follow the example of the Pharisees’ lives, because that would lead them exactly to the wrong destination.

Jesus said that God’s Word can be wrongly presented as unbearable religious demands, back-breaking, impossible to keep, and full of condemnation. But God's Word is intended to be a banquet for the soul – filling our minds and hearts with God’s thoughts and values. God’s Word sensitizes us to our sinfulness, so that we will run to God for forgiveness and comfort, and love God as Abba, Father.

They had the grammar and punctuation right, but they were telling the wrong story! In Jesus’ words, “Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?” (Matthew 23:24 MSG)

I’m learning to shift my emphasis from the Pharisees’ “should-do” and “have-to” emphasis to Jesus’ “being and becoming” emphasis. The challenge is just as great, but instead of producing bondage and guilt, the outcome is freedom and relationship.

It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with what you know!


Father, I love your word and I love its practical application to my life. Please help me to digest your thoughts and values as I feed daily on your word. I love it when things that seem difficult to understand become simple and clear. Help me to prepare tasty and nutritional “Bread of Life” meals for those I teach and influence. And please help me to do better at the most important thing – living it first before attempting to explain it to others. Amen!

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