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Hide Me Behind Your Cross (Matt. 23:1-7)

Posted by Pastor Angeline Tan on

Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional thoughtfully penned by leaders in DUMC arising from their daily devotions. The devotional’s title, “Our Best Thought” is taken from the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” as a reference to God: “Thou my best thought, by day or by night.” Publishes on Sundays.


Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

Matthew 23:1-7 


In this passage, Jesus warns the crowds and His disciples against religious hypocrisy.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were primarily religious leaders for everyday life. Jesus told the crowds and His disciples to carefully obey their teaching about the Scripture itself.

But He also told them not to do what they do, because those same men did not practice what they preached (v.3), they are pretending, the same meaning of the Greek term, hipokrites. (Matthew 23:13). They also added many complicated human rules to the law of Moses which were gradually elevated as equal to the law itself. They tied up heavy yokes and cumbersome burdens on the people. They were not trying to help the people to live out God’s Word in a way reflected God’s heart. Everything they did was for everyone to see (v.5). They focused on winning human favour and honour; and gaining human accolades by having others called them ‘Rabbi.’ They were legalistic and hypocrites.


I am guilty of the same as the religious leaders whom Jesus reprimanded. It took me many years to learn the following two lessons in my serving; and I am still learning, being a work-in-progress. I keep my heart in-check by remembering the quoted Scriptures.

1. To do what I teach and preach.

James 3:1 - Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

 2. To serve not to win human praises but seek to glorify and honour God alone.

Matthew 6:1 - “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

I joined the church as a ministry staff about two years ago from a corporate background of many years. The last two years have been a great wilderness experience for me. One of the many lessons that I learned, was that: it was very different to serve God as a church staff than a volunteer. When I served as a volunteer, I received many praises from men, praising me with many good words and appreciations. I certainly felt so good and lifted up with all these praises. However, when I became a fulltime church staff, I seldom received praises from men, as I was expected to do what I was assigned to do. It was a very humbling learning experience.

But I thank God that He has grilled me and allowed me to re-check my heart and motives of serving Him fulltime. The Lord has humbled me before Him and men.  He weakened me so that I could be real to my weaknesses and allowing my heart to be transformed, through the renewing and realignment of my mind and heart with His. This is a lifelong lesson; it is tough and not easy. But I must continue to be humble and allow God to work in me through the Holy Spirit; and I must always come before our Lord Jesus, surrender myself more and more to him, take up his yoke and burden upon me, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30); and to do His will by relying on His strength for His glory and honor.


Lord Jesus, forgive my pride and my self-righteousness. Hide me behind Your Cross, so that others may see You before me. It is You and Your Cross that I shall preach and minister, so that everyone will encounter You and Your love for them in a deeper and personal way. Lord, keep my heart pure and humble; help me not to desire human praises, but only seek to glorify and honour You alone in all that I do and serve. In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen!

Pastor Angeline Tan is pastor of PJ North 7.

Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional that follows DUMC's Bible Reading Plan. Posts on Sundays.