Learn What it Means to be a Witness | 07
AUTHOR: Holy Scripture
The discipline of being a witness is better learned through observation and practice. The men and women of the Bible serve as our mentors and guides as we learn to be effective witnesses.
Read or listen to Matthew 23:1-36.
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples: “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. 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.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters. Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. You are not to be called instructors either, because you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as you are!
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the temple, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gold of the temple is bound by his oath.’ Blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? Also, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the altar, it means nothing; but whoever takes an oath by the gift that is on it is bound by his oath.’ Blind people! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore, the one who takes an oath by the altar takes an oath by it and by everything on it. The one who takes an oath by the temple takes an oath by it and by him who dwells in it. And the one who takes an oath by heaven takes an oath by God’s throne and by him who sits on it.
“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. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside of it may also become clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we wouldn’t have taken part with them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors’ sins!
“Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell? This is why I am sending you prophets, sages, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. So all the righteous blood shed on the earth will be charged to you, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all these things will come on this generation.
What was Jesus accusing the scribes and Pharisees of?
The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.
Read the blog below. What does it teach about being a witness?
Witness and Vocation
By Carrie-Lynn Rodenberg
In Romans 2:17-24 Paul lays down a challenge to examine our own hearts before diving into a quick judgment of others, and how a rush to judgment quickly discredits our witness.
This passage reminds me of Matthew 23:1-36 when Jesus gives absolutely no space for religious hypocrites, who were placing heavy burdens on others but were unwilling to lift a finger themselves. Have you ever been managed by someone who acted like one of those Pharisees? I’d guess most of us have. The workplace is an amazing stage to witness the gospel lived out well—or to watch hypocrisy sour the aroma of Christ.
I own and operate Turnkey Marketing, a local marketing company that helps small auto mechanic businesses connect with customers. I have had the privilege of growing this company from the ground up, and as a believer in Jesus, I’ve tried my best to intentionally build an organization that does good work with integrity.
So, when I think about the workplace and how our Christian faith impacts what I do day to day, it’s hard to imagine my work without my faith, as it’s such a part of my identity. When you build a company, especially in the beginning, so much of it is an outpouring of you—because in the beginning it often is just you! So the company’s personality, values, and passions often reflect those of the founder.
Those values are likely most evident in the deep desire and celebration of doing good work well. Colossians 3:23-24 says Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (NIV) This has fueled me, and in turn, has greatly impacted the way Turnkey Marketing was built, and how it runs.
I am extremely driven to provide really, really great services that deeply help people because of my faith—and that is a ministry.
Opportunities to display integrity and witness pop up all the time at work, but there are also countless opportunities to take shortcuts. I remember when I first started out it was just me and I was definitely experiencing the entrepreneurial struggle—working really crazy hours, super stressed, and yet not really making any money (which compounds the stress!) I was doing a ton of work for a client in New York City. I’m from New York, so I got lunch with him one day and he paid me one of the installments of his contract in cash and specifically asked me to not claim it on my taxes (because he didn’t want to). I should probably mention that it was $10,000! That is a lot of money, and at the time a huge amount of money for me. If I claimed it, I’d have to give up about $2,500, and I could have used that money. Honestly, I wanted to not claim it, but I couldn’t sleep—I felt so convicted. I felt like God was asking me, “Do you really want to ‘gain’ $2,500 and forfeit who you are?” And yet, I was still torn up by it, so I brought it up to my small group. Truthfully, I wanted people to say, “You know, it’s really not that big of a deal—you deserve it! Keep the money and move on! Treat yourself! But of course, that is not what my small group said.
They did help me think through it, gave me some hard truths, pointed me to the Word, and ultimately helped me have confidence in making the right decision. In the grand scheme of business, that was kind of a small moment—yet looking back, I feel it was actually a milestone when God, through his people, helped me put a stake in the ground and decide who I was going to be as a business owner. One who does the right thing, even when it costs me.
I feel that oftentimes it’s these little things that really mar peoples’ witness. Choosing to live without integrity in the little things diminishes the “big ways” you show up as a believer. Though I will, and certainly do, fail as a believer in front of my team, I want to go home at night knowing that I am trying my hardest to depend on God and those he puts around me to show the nonbelievers I work with day in and day out who God is.
As my team has steadily grown from just me to now 23 people, I’ve looked to Jesus so much when thinking about how to treat my teammates and those I lead—what’s fair, what’s right, what’s kind, what’s just. His teachings and the character of God have shaped my values, which has shaped my company’s values.
We have six values:
1. We genuinely care.
2. We face challenges with optimism and grit.
3. We own it.
4. We do the right thing.
5. We check our egos at the door.
6. We build trust.
These aren’t lip service or marketing buzzwords we slap on a website and forget about. These values are how we hire, fire, lead, manage, and make decisions. They’ve become our guiding principles that remind us who we are, and help us in moments of crisis and in moments of great opportunity.
Our values are the first thing we interview for—we always do a brief culture fit screening interview before a person can even progress in the interview process. You certainly do not need to be a believer to work at Turnkey Marketing, but you do need to live out and believe these six core values in order to best serve our clients and our team.
Finally, if another believer was looking for advice in the area of witness and the workplace, I’d say to see people as we all are—flawed. Choose to give grace when their “humanness” is showing. Yes, of course, have accountability and performance standards, but also have compassion, mercy, and grace for people when their imperfection as a human shows. Be the person who can say, “I believe in you, and here’s what I’m going to do to help you know that, see that, and grow.”
Don’t regret investing in a teammate, even if he or she turns around and quits or does something shocking or hurtful—still be committed to being Christ-like: caring for them as a person and loving them by helping them grow as a person and as an employee.
Holy Spirit, expose the areas where I do not practice what I proclaim, forgive me, and set me free from hypocrisy.
Week 7 of 8 Witness
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