The Greater Condemnation



And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples,
(Luke 20:45 NASB)
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,
(Luke 20:46 NASB)
who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
(Luke 20:47 NASB)


Over and over Jesus warns people around him about the condemnation that is to come. However, most of the words of warning are for those who think that they are doing well spiritually and in religious life. Curious, isn't it? He warned his disciples to beware of the scribes. These people wore really nice clothes, and they were wonderful at patting one another on the back as they passed each other on the street. They made sure that all the right protocol was followed and that they were treated with special honor. And yet, Jesus said that they devoured widows' houses. Obviously this is a jab at the fact that they failed to show compassion on those who were weaker and in need. Jesus does not tolerate those who have power, exercising that power to marginalize the weaker who are around them. He warns them about trying to look spiritual by praying long prayers. The outward appearance of spirituality means nothing if it is not combined with love and compassion for the poor, the needy and the weak that confront us on a daily basis. These religious people are the ones that Jesus says will receive the greater condemnation. Why? Because they know better. They have been privileged to study the word of God. They have financial resources which could be used to help others, but instead, they have presumably made their money off the poor. In Jesus' eyes, these are the very worst offenders.


Those of us "in" the church need to realize that Jesus is holding us to a very high standard, but not one of religiousity, but rather of responsibility. Over and over we are reminded that we have what we have so that we will use it for others, not for ourselves. That's why Jesus gets so frustrated because ultimately those of us in the church who refuse to do his kingdom business are guilty of misappropriation of resources! The resources have been made available to us for us to be his ambassadors here in the kingdom of God which already exists here on this earth.

The focus of those in the church should constantly be outward. We do not exist for ourselves, but rather, we exist for a needy and suffering world. The challenge is for us to determine, with God's help, how we can get outside of ourselves and change the world. The little handful of disciples who refused to be corrupted by the religious systems of the day did just that. They changed the world and the effects of their faithfulness continue to this day. We are called to be just as radical and faithful today. Woe to us if we are not, for the greater condemnation is for those who "think" they are spiritual and yet are not servant leaders in the kingdom.


Lord, help me to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes open to the needy and hurting world around me. May I not get caught up in religiousity, but rather, only in you. Amen.


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