Mat 23:14[What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, you will be severely punished.]
Some of the ancient manuscripts do not include this verse in Matthew, thus the reason for the brackets in my bible. There is a mirror of it in Mark 12 as seen in the caption under the picture of the homeless woman, and because it is in Mark I think it may be safe to assume that Jesus would have brought this point out..so let's have a look at this verse.
Again we see the word "Hyprocrites!" So, we can safely assume that this is another definition of what it means to be a hypocrite. Let's break the verse down a little and then discuss what we find.
Cheating widows 1. They claimed to have a clear knowledge of the law and a perfect observance of it. They pretended to have special care for the poor, friendship for the distressed, and a deep willingness to aid those who were in tough times. Through this "hypocritical" display they induced poor people to commit the management of their property to them as guardians and executors. They then took advantage of them and defrauded them.
2. They gave the appearance of great sanctity, and persuaded many conscientious but credulous women to give them much. This was all done under the pretense of religious purposes.
Pretended piety It was all for pretense or show, in order that they might better take from the poor. They were not sincere in their prayers and pride was their master. They were not being condemned for the length of the prayers but for the evil design behind the prayers. Public prayer should always be short and to the point of the situation, never intended to draw attention to self.
Long public prayer Their prayers are said to have lasted 3 hours. One rule among them was to meditate for one hour, pray for an hour and then meditate for another hour. All of this was included in their "long prayers" or devotions.
What were the Pharisees and teachers of religious law "doing" that caused them to cheat widows?
The short of it is this; being hypocrites. If I could go into the mind of a Pharisee I think I might find this train of thought. (Yes, this is presumption on my part)
"I have worked long and hard for YHWH. I know all there is to know about the Law. I can take care of these widows and their possessions...who better than I?"
"I have their trust because they can see how devoted I am to YHWH. They have given me their money because I am trustworthy."
"I have worked long and hard for YHWH. YHWH would want me to have some of this money to take care of myself; after all, YHWH cared for Elijah."
"The widow will be honored by YHWH that her money was used to support me in my ministry. She will be blessed richly in the Kingdom to come."
"Send in your seed money! The Lord will take that money and return it to you 10 fold!"
"Support my ministry! I'm doin' God's work!" [Bling flashes in the lense of the $100,000 dollar camera]
"Look at all these people I just slayed in the Spirit and also those I healed in the name of Jeeeesuus!"
"Look at this big beautiful auditorium. Did you know that we spent 50 million dollars building it and we have over 50,000 members attending weekly? How can we NOT be of God?" [Is my silk tie on straight? Is the camera getting my good side?Flash the pearly whites with slightly humble look on face - just not too humble. Smile and wave.]
Lord Father in Heaven,
I know that You want sincerity in all that we do. Lord, You know that I even sometimes question my own sincerity. Pride has a tendency to rear it's ugly head at the most inopportune moments. Help me to see through Your eyes. Help me to love others with a sincere heart and with real love. I don't want to be a pretender.
Please forgive my sins.
I praise You for what You have given me through Your Son Jesus Christ. I praise You that when You looked down at Jesus on the cross you saw me. I praise You that I am justified and reconciled by You and with You. I confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I ask now that You would give me the Holy Spirit for today. I want to have the Mind of Christ.
Thank You for all that You do in my life. Protect my children. Please forgive their sins and cover them with Your righteousness. Amen.