Woe To Those Who Are Greedy
December 8, 2021
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation (Matthew 23:13).
It is always a temptation for those in authority to become greedy and to take advantage of those under their authority. It is especially heinous for priests, pastors, and preachers to give in to that temptation. It is not only an abuse of their authority and a flagrant disregard for their office as a minister of God, it is an abhorrent violation of God’s law (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; 14:29; 24:17-21; 27:19; Psalm 68:5; 146:9; Proverbs 15:25; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10). The Scribes and Pharisees were guilty of this abomination, and many in the office of the clergy are guilty of it today.
In the days of Jesus, the priests were often given the responsibility of caring for widows and orphans, and managing the estates of those who trusted in them. They abused this responsibility and trust by mismanaging those properties, absconding them for themselves, or using them for their own personal pleasures. Many of the widows and orphans were left to fend for themselves. An even more atrocious abuse of authority was the practice of demanding widows to give money to purchase the blessings of God (and you thought this was a practice of the Roman Catholic church during the Middle Ages).
Such abuse is always characteristic of false prophets, teachers, priests, and pastors (Micah 3:5,11; 2 Peter 2:1-3,14). The Apostle James wrote (1:27), Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. Those who are truly Christian will lead a life that demonstrates practical benevolence. By that I mean it is more than saying you will pray for those in need, it is doing something about their need. To ‘visit’ here means not only to go and see, but to look after, to be ready to help them, especially those in the family of faith.
Scripture not only teaches this, but Jesus Christ demonstrated it. (Psalm 68:5) A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. (Isaiah 1:17) Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Luke 7:12-15) And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
“Lord Jesus, may we demonstrate a compassionate heart and generous spirit to assist those who come to us for help, especially those who are widowed and orphaned. Let the love of Jesus Christ shine through us that they may be encouraged in their faith. Amen.”