true and false leaders

Men in positions of power behave in evasive and manipulative ways. This is obvious in our democratic, western societies where we are accustomed to witness the bland assertions and evasive ways of politicians keen to keep favour with voters.

It is not always so obvious when it comes to ecclesiastical organisations. But it is nevertheless there. The devious mindset, keen make itself look good and others bad, even though others are better and they are actually worse.

We pick up on this phenomenon this week in verses 23 to 27, chapter 21 of Matthew’s Gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The chief priests and the elders of the Jews came to Jesus as he taught the people in the temple and questioned his right to preach and teach there.

Who gave him permission to teach ? They knew that none of them had. Just who did he think he was to come into their church and start behaving like a leader !

Now this teacher has experienced this reaction first hand from professional ministers who have wandered from God’s ways but don’t want to be reminded of what they should be preaching and teaching !

Who are you ? they demand.

I know that the ordinary believer sees and knows the difference between what is right and what is wrong. I also know that the apostle Paul told the Corinthian believers in his first letter at chapter 3 and verses 10 to 17 that the day of Judgement will reveal each minister’s work as valid or not.

God will judge all things. In the meantime all believers are to learn to become discerning and that means they will have to be exposed to the bad as well as the good.

But back to the Master Teacher himself.

The self serving and self interested religious leaders of his day had the audacity to challenge the very presence of God – they were that far gone in their self absorption and self deception.

And their twisted mindset was revealed in the scriptural record of their thought process when challenged by Jesus to give an assessment of John the Baptist’s ministry. Was John’s baptism from God or from the self serving self indulgence of John’s own heart?

Jesus was of course pointing out to them and to those who stood by and heard the conversation the basis and the hypocrisy of the way these leaders formed their judgement about spiritual matters. They ought to have been able to make the correct assessment that Jesus was from God – that Jesus was God – if they were the genuine, God given ministers they claimed before all the world to be.

But of course they weren’t. They were merely self seeking and ambitious men who lacked the ability and insight to make the correct judgement on such spiritual matters, in a spiritual way ie according to the Holy Spirit. 

Therefore they reasoned as men ie they measured the impact of their words on their hearers: would their words boost their reputation and authority or would they boost Jesus and John ie God’s true ministers ?

Such considerations should not have been their primary concern. Their primary concern, and the primary concern of every true minister of the Gospel should be this.

Is this person’s ministry serving God by encouraging the people to faithfully love and serve God ?

Instead they judged the situation according to their own ambitious agenda, concerned for their position and standing in the eyes of men, in accordance with man’s agenda of self aggrandizement and self promotion.

Typically, being caught out in their hypocrisy as false leaders, they refused to reply. They couldn’t without exposing themselves as false shepherds. Jesus therefore replied they he was under no obligation then to reply to them. They could not – indeed would not – answer a question which should have been well within their capacity had they been God centred and godly ministers of religion.

But they were self centred and therefore perverse religious leaders of no use whatsoever in helping the people to truly love and serve God.

Jesus, of course, did know the answer to the question he posed. John was indeed God’s servant, doing God’s will, and his activities were ordained by God.

And so too the genuine minister of Christ’s Gospel will be able to discern the genuine and the false. And the genuine minister of God will not attack another minister for being about the Father’s business, but will rather rejoice that God is sending labourers into the harvest field to gather the people in and to build them up in the faith to love and serve God effectively.

As Jesus said,  By their fruits shall ye know them !


Christian Preacher

By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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