“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23, Christian Standard Bible)
Do you have bumper stickers on your car? Maybe a political stance, a favorite sports team, your love of dogs or cats? What about something religious—a fish symbol, scripture quote, admonition to repent? (I haven’t seen any “Honk if you love Jesus” stickers lately.) While I don’t personally display bumper stickers, I have no objection if you do. Unless . . . well, I’ll explain that later.
As we read the Gospels, numerous passages mention the Pharisees. Many members of this religious sect prided themselves on strict observance of Old Testament Law and seemed eager to find ways they felt Jesus and His followers broke those laws. Theirs was a showy form of religion, desiring others to notice how observant they were. Jesus’ description of them in Matthew 23 reveals their motive was more for personal recognition and glory than anything else. Look! See how religious I am! I’m fasting today. Step back, I’m on my way to the Temple to pray. He called them hypocrites, blind guides, whited sepulchers.
“They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people” (verses 5-7, CSB).
In other words, if they were driving down the highway today, they might shake their fist at you, honk their horn angrily if you drive too slow, or give you a scathing stare as they whip their fancy car in front of you to speed on their way. But their bumper sticker might read, “God loves you—and I do too!” However, their actions and that bumper sticker will not match.
Jesus told the Pharisees that while they were careful in many points of the law, they forgot the important things. They neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Yes, the other points of law were also important, but don’t forget the bigger things that reveal their heart, the inner man. Those are the things that point others to God.
As a Christian, we do not need the spotlight to shine on us. We must not strive to make ourselves important in the eyes of others or parade our good works for them to notice and applaud. Instead, we must live our lives in such a way that all glory and honor go to the One who deserves it most, Jesus Christ.
Yes, put a bumper sticker on your car, but make sure your actions match your message. Let the Lord be exalted in all you do.
Lord, remind me each day that all glory and honor is Yours. I am merely a vessel You can use however You see fit in service to Your kingdom. Help me to focus on the things that are important to You—“heart” things that will draw the unbeliever to You. My greatest desire is to serve You faithfully and honorably.