“ But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,” (Matthew 23:5).
This verse is a description given by Jesus to His disciples regarding the Jewish sect known as the Pharisees. This verse is a good example of how the Pharisees were very concerned about the praise of men rather than of God, and wanted to show off how religious they thought they were. How many Christians can relate to the description that Christ is giving the Pharisees in this verse? Are some Christians prone to bragging about their service to God?
When Jesus spoke these words, the Old Law was still in effect, however, the Pharisees were wrong in their beliefs because they placed rules that they expected the Jews to follow that were too strict, and that did not go along with Moses’ teachings. Jesus is pointing out in this verse, how that the Pharisees craved the attention and approval of men so much that they would “show off” how that they were worshipping God through their appearance and the things that they did.
For instance, the portion of the verse which says “they make broad their phylacteries” refers to the practice that the Jews would have in which they would carry portions of the Old Testament written on pieces of paper in two small boxes on their clothing. The Pharisees would take this a step further, however, and make these boxes extra large so that others would see how religiously minded they were. Was there any need for others to see that the Pharisees were studying the Scripture? Absolutely not! It is good to encourage others to study God’s Word, but we must be careful about how we approach it. Instead of showing off how much we study, we can talk to others about how much God has helped us and how studying the Bible is so important. We can give verses like II Timothy 2:15 to prove this fact.
A similar situation can be seen in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee was boastful of how much he did for the Lord, and he considered himself better than others, including the publican. He prayed to God bragging about how much he fasted in a week, and how much he gave of his money. The publican, however, went to God with a humble heart and prayed for forgiveness of his own sins. Jesus ended this parable by saying that the publican was more righteous than the Pharisee because “every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
We hear little kids sing the song “I Don’t Wanna Be A Pharisee,” and this is a motto that we, as Christians, must remember to practice everyday in our lives here on Earth. I’m afraid that platforms like social media have made it easier for some Christians to behave somewhat like Pharisees. Christians behave like Pharisees when they boast of doing good works for others, and boast of how much they are studying their Bibles, worshipping, or giving to the Lord. All of these things need to be done in secret and without broadcasting it on social media. If we feel the need to have to tell others about the good works we are doing, then we already have our reward here on Earth, rather than having a reward from God. Others do not have to know, nor need to know when we are performing a good work for others, or when we pray. worship, or study God’s Word. That should be known only to us, and to God.
Of course, when we do good works for others, then more than God and ourselves know about the act, but let us be sure that we do not speak of the good work ourselves. Let others speak of our good works rather than ourselves! (Proverbs 27:2). We must not let our pride sabotage our goal of entering into Heaven one day!
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:1-6).