Summary: Being humble is difficult because as soon as you believe that you are becoming more humble, you in essence are not humble anymore! Reminds me of the old Mac Davis song O Lord it is hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way.
For those not familiar with an Anglican Service; there are four Scripture Readings before the Sermon. The Scripture Readings for this day were: Joshua:3:7-17; ; Psalm 107:1-7,33-37; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 and Matthew 23:1-12.
A Texas rancher met up with a Vermont dairy farmer.
The two men began talking about their land and the dairy farmer told the cattleman that he operated his business on 125 acres.
The Texan scoffed at such a small parcel of land. He said, "Yankee, that ain't nothing.
On my ranch I can get in my truck at sunrise and I won't reach the fence line of my property until sunset."
The dairy farmer snorted, "Yeah, I used to have a truck like that."
Bragging rights, Bragging rights everybody wants them.
Whether it is the biggest house, the fanciest car, the most impressive wardrobe, the most well behaved children, everyone wants to be top dog in some aspect of their life.
This desire ...... to be first .....is also called pride, ...... and God has something to say to those who have too much of it.
Now, The religious leaders of Jesus day, wanted to be looked at and treated as though they were a step closer to God than anyone else.
Just like many people today, the Pharisees wanted others to see them as special and treat them as though they were closer to God than anyone else.
They wanted others to be impressed with their piety and impressed with their holiness.
They wanted others to think they had some special bragging rights that the common man lacked.
They were chest thumpers you could almost hear them say:, ......Hey, look at me! Look at how important I am.
See how broad my phylacteries are and how long my fringes are?
Now, phylacteries were small leather boxes containing portions of Gods Word.
They were worn by Jews who interpreted literally the instructions to fasten Gods Word on their hands and forehead. (Pause)
Also Moses, in Numbers 15 , had instructed the children of Israel to put fringes on their garments to remember, not only the law in general, but also the smaller parts of the rites and ceremonies belonging to it.
So the Pharisees made their phylacteries broad. They put more writing on them or made the letters larger and thus more visible, to appear more holy.
And they made their fringes longer to show the world how they followed the finer points of the law.
I am sure they did not like it when Jesus pointed out how "these men" dressed to draw attention to themselves.
To put themselves on a higher level than others.
They wanted to appear religious without actually being religious........for they do not practice what they teach..
Their philosophy in essence was, ......Do as I say, not as I do.
These men thought they were important to God, they thought they were important to men, but they were just hypocrites.
They wore a mask of Holiness.
They thought they were going to be first in the Kingdom.
Yet, Jesus shares this truth: those who seek to be first, in truth will be last.
(Slow) God is not impressed with pride.
Beloved ........., God is not interested in how great you are. He is interested in how great others are as a result of your life. (Pause)
The following story though possibly fictional may help bring this into perspective.
Miss Thompson taught Teddy Stallard in the fourth grade. He was a slow, unkempt student, a loner shunned by his classmates.
The previous year his mother died, and what little motivation for school he may have once had was now gone.
Miss Thompson did not particularly care for Teddy either, but at Christmas time he brought her a small present.
Miss Thompson's desk was covered with well-wrapped presents from the other children, but Teddy's came in a brown sack.
When she opened it there was a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume.
The children began to snicker but Miss Thompson saw the importance of the moment.
She quickly splashed on some perfume and put on the bracelet, pretending Teddy had given her something special.
At the end of the day Teddy worked up enough courage to softly say, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother . . . and her bracelet looks real pretty on you too.
I am glad you like my presents."
After Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and prayed for Gods forgiveness.
She prayed for God to use her as she sought to not only teach these children but to love them as well. She became a new teacher.
She lovingly helped students like Teddy and by the end of the year he had caught up with most of the students.