Today's verses are 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 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.'" The scribes were experts in handling all the sacred, religious documents of the Jews. Their jobs included teaching, interpreting and regulating the Law of God and the entire Old Testament. Obviously, this was no small chore. It held huge responsibilities. Accordingly, they were held in high esteem by the people.
Many scribes used this high esteem for their own glory. The sought public recognition and applause. In public gatherings, they desired their places of honor, the best seats in the house, the closest place to the stage in the restaurant, the front row for the year's gala performance. They not only enjoyed public approval, they sought it.
Moreover, many were terribly conniving. They used their positions as lawyers in the community to exploit widows to pad their bank accounts. They loved money and power.
They would do all this while also pretending to be very spiritual and pious. They faked a relationship with God go get what they wanted. They were hypocrites. Jesus said to beware of such people.
True spirituality is just the opposite of these scribes. True spirituality has these qualities foreign to these scribes:
1. True spirituality if focused on integrity. The word "integrity" comes from "integrated." It means our lives are totally integrated. Our outsides match our insides. Our public lives match our private lives. Our words match our deeds. There is no hypocrisy to be found.
2. We are changed from the inside/out. Our hearts love God with all that is within us. There is no pretension with our actions. Our actions follow our heart's passion which is to love God with all that is within us.
3. Humility then becomes the strongest virtue in someone who completely loves God. True humility doesn't desire the best place. It doesn't seek the applause of people. It doesn't seek to be served. Humility recognizes that all we have comes from God. Therefore, the heart's satisfaction is to serve, often in silence, wanting only the applause of God. True humility is playing to an audience of one.
3. Because of our deep love for God, we have a deep love for the poor. A heart for God equals a heart for a just society. We don't abuse widows and orphans but deeply care for them. We realize that James 1:27 is correct: true religion is caring for widows and orphans.
If someone claims to be deeply spiritual, beware! A truly spiritual person won't claim a deep spirituality.
Also, look at their fruit, their outward appearances and lives. Do they seek attention and acclaim? Do they seek great things for themselves? Do they give God all the glory? Do they love to worship God with all their hearts? Is their a love for the deprived and broken in the world? When you see these qualities, you know someone is deeply, truly spiritual.
Otherwise, they are like many of the scribes, grossly condemned by our Lord and Savior, Jesus. These hypocrites will receive the "greater condemnation," Jesus said. Jesus said there will be a special place in hell for such hypocrites.
How sad will be their ultimate end.