5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – New Living Translation
4 “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.[a] 5 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
To wear “them” (scripture) on a person’s head or hands, he would be wearing a ‘phylactery’ or ‘tefillin’.
These were commanded in Deuteronomy 6:8 as a reminder of God’s promise and His commands. However, as is often the case, only the character of the person wearing the phylactery told of what value was held in wearing the phylactery.
There is a song by ‘D.C. Talk’ entitled “Jesus Freak”. Before I became married, this song seemed sort of ‘corny’, to me. But, I thought it was funny and was a source of encouragement.
I often wore t-shirts that had a message from the “Living Epistles”, God’s Gym series. My favorite shirt had a picture of Jesus Christ in a front, lean, as if He were doing a push-up. He had the cross lying horizontally on His shoulders. On the cross were the words “Sin of The World”. Beneath the sketch of Jesus leaning in a push-up position, were the words, “Bench Press This!”. On the reverse panel of the shirt, a nail pierced, bleeding hand with the words, “His Pain, Your Gain”.
For me, personally, this type of paraphernalia served as a constant reminder of who I am. I am a representative of Christ.
I wore these shirts with the knowledge that not everyone shared my zeal for Christ and I would appear to them just as the song by D.C. Talk suggest; a Jesus freak. I drew attention. And with that, I often got what I expected; scoffing. This was not showing off. I wore the shirts as a message for those who met me, for those who saw me as well as to those who knew me. But, most importantly, the shirts were always a reminder of who I was and the witness I would exude.
In Matthew 23:5, the Pharisees are being referenced as people whom do all they do for a show. My concern for people who read Matthew 23:5 is they will believe scripture is telling them to not be proud of who they are; and will stop wearing t-shirts, crosses, wwjd bracelets and other paraphernalia. I pray these people will be encouraged to continue living boldly for the Lord, in speech, action and activity. Be identified. The days of people asking, "Are you a Christian?" are dwindling. I made that mistake a few months ago when I came in contact with an old high school friend of mine. He’s a Muslim. It happened again with a co-worker who informed me that I was creating a hostile environment for him.
Most people have a desire to be good. It is easy to mistake that we Christians are in mutual friendship. Today, it is not enough to even ask a person if they are a Christian. We have to dig a little further to understand where the person is coming from. Those are the people who may ‘show’ their t-shirts or display an ichthus (out line of a fish) on their cars with out acknowledging to themselves that their conduct or language betrays those icons of identity.
Joshua 1:9 (New International Version)
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."