“They love … being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi …” (Matthew 23:6-8)
Jesus’ harshest words in scripture were reserved for the scribes and Pharisees, whom He condemned in this chapter. Here He tells us one of the reasons why. They loved being called “Rabbi”, the common Jewish title for a teacher. They were supposed to love GOD, and other PEOPLE — the two great commandments — but they loved recognition for being a “Rabbi” instead.
Not too many people literally seek to be called “Rabbi” in Christian circles today (some actually do …). But the same principle applies to other titles as well: some love being called “senior pastor” (emphasis on the “senior”!) , or “executive pastor” or “President” or “Associational Moderator” or “Doctor” or whatever. Is there anything inherently wrong with those titles? Not at all. The problem comes about when a person has a misplaced love of this kind of recognition. Do you love a certain title, or the respect, that admiration that goes along with a particular position or status? Be careful. Your heart has strayed. We are to love GOD, and love His PEOPLE — NOT the titles and admiration and esteem of men.
This kind of misplaced love for attention can be manifested in many different directions. Are you really loving GOD when you praise Him in song — or do you love being told what a great voice you have when you sing? Do you love PEOPLE and want them to know God’s word — or do you love being told what a great teacher you are? The difference could not be more important. Jesus told us in Matthew 6 that if you do religious deeds to be seen by men, “you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven! Be careful therefore, that your love in the ministry of the Kingdom is not misplaced.