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“He continued teaching. ‘Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preening in the radiance of public flattery, basking in prominent positions, sitting at the head table at every church function’”.

Mk 12:38, 39 EHP

People love to be important and to be noticed by other people. In fact, some will go to any lengths to get seen. Gaudy clothes are an excellent way for people to promote themselves. So are uniforms. And being seen in the company of famous people is a sure-fire way to get regarded as important. One well-known church was holding an international conference and after a couple of days a world-renowned religious celebrity arrived to deliver an address. The world’s television cameras were there and within minutes one of the conference delegates had pushed his way to the front, grabbed hold of the celebrity’s arm and held on strongly. It was an easy way to get onto the world’s television screens – basking in someone else’s reflected glory.

The religious teachers in the Lord’s day were like that. They had an inflated sense of their own importance. We have no account of Jesus himself wearing any eye-catching robes or gowns. He was happy to teach and preach the Word as he was, letting the focus shine on his heavenly Father, whose kingdom he taught, and whose love he expressed in his works of mercy and compassion. There is a tendency for leaders in religious organizations to arrange for ceremonies and clothing that single themselves out as special people. Whilst they should be respected, great care should be taken to heed Christ’s warning in these verses from Mark’s gospel. Inflated egos do no good for the gospel. They detract from the significance of the carpenter of Nazareth.


Lord, help us to avoid ostentatious self-glorification.

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