In a way they wanted to be good models of observant Jews. "See how well we observe all the ritual rules and regulations of our religion!" In their misguided zeal for religion they sought respect and honor for themselves rather than for God.
They made the practice of their faith a burden rather than a joy for the people they were supposed to serve. True respect for God and his ways inclines us to Godly humility and to simplicity of heart – wanting to please God alone. Was Jesus against calling anyone rabbi or father?
Or was he just directing this sharp rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees?
Jesus seemed to be warning both his disciples and the religious leaders about the temptation to seek titles and honors to increase one's reputation and admiration by others. The scriptures give ample warning about the danger of self-seeking pride: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbes 16:18).
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:24). Origen, writing in the 3rd century, reminds those who teach and lead to remember that "you have one teacher, and you are all brothers to each other...Whoever ministers with the divine word does not put himself forward to be called teacher, for he knows that when he performs well it is Christ who is within him.
He should only call himself servant according to the command of Christ, saying, Whoever is greater among you, let him be the servant of all." Respect for God and his ways inclines us to Godly humility and simplicity of heart. What is true humility and why should we embrace it?
True humility is not feeling bad about yourself, or having a low opinion of yourself, or thinking of yourself as inferior to others. True humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves, whereas a low self-opinion tends to focus our attention on ourselves. Humility is truth in self-understanding and truth in action. Viewing ourselves truthfully, with sober judgment, means seeing ourselves the way God sees us (Psalm 139:1-4).
A humble person makes a realistic assessment of oneself without illusion or pretense to be something one is not. A truly humble person regards oneself neither smaller nor larger than one truly is. True humility frees us to be ourselves as God sees us and to avoid despair and pride. A humble person does not want to wear a mask or put on a facade in order to look good to others. Such a person is not swayed by accidentals, such as fame, reputation, success, or failure. Do you know the joy of Christ-like humility and simplicity of heart?
Humility is the queen or foundation of all the other virtues because it enables us to see and judge correctly, the way God sees.
Humility helps us to be teachable so we can acquire true knowledge, wisdom, and an honest view of reality. It directs our energy, zeal, and ambition to give ourselves to something greater than ourselves.
Humility frees us to love and serve others selflessly, for their sake, rather than our own.
Paul the Apostle gives us the greatest example and model of humility in the person of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and ...who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8).
Do you want to be a servant as Jesus served and loved others? The Lord gives grace to those who humbly seek him.