Jesus launches into a scathing rebuke of the religious leaders around Him at the dinner table of a local Pharisee (see Luke 11:37-52). This passage begins a list of seven failures that these leaders experienced. The following continues the list of six failures that are prefaced with a dire warning, “Woe to you…”
Here’s #3 – “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” v. 43 (NIV 1984)
Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees were very interested in appearance. They wanted the prominent seats in worship services at the synagogue. They wanted to be noticed by others when they strolled through the public marketplaces. They were more interested in seeking the approval of others, rather than doing what is right.
Ego and pride can be very insidious in their growth within us. Prominence, success, platform, recognition can all plant seeds within our hearts that sprout into the strangle vine of pride. Leaders, because of our positions and prominence can be susceptible to this noxious weed in our life. How we respond when praised and recognized is key to keeping these weeds out of our garden.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Any man can handle adversity, but it is success that is the true test of a man.”
Instead of seeking the approval of others in order to win their recognition or praise, do what is right. But what is this “right” that we are to do. Numerous passages in the Bible describe leaders doing what is right in the eyes of God, not men. For example, “For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite (1 Kgs 15:5). NIV 1984
Doing what is right is doing what is pleasing to God. It is living and leading in such a way as to seek His approval – His alone. For in pleasing God, by doing what is right, we may run counter-cultural to the times or the wisdom of the world.
So where do you find your approval? Your heart will tell you and God knows.