As Jesus was warning His listeners about the self-righteous and proud teachers of the law - the "elite" of His day - He was also warning us, and every generation to follow, about them (Mark 12:38-40).

In Hollywood, in Washington, DC, and in our own communities we find many like this, and we admire and respect them. Who today match this profile:

In Jesus' Day... In Our Day...
They liked to walk around in flowing robes They dress in trendy clothes, sport elaborate hairstyles and wear expensive jewelry
They liked to be greeted in the marketplaces (Mark 12:38) They seek to have admirer's follow them, wanting to get a glimpse of a "celebrity"
They had the most important seats in the Synagogue Whether in the church, the synagogue, Kodak Theatre or the Congress Chambers, we see their naked ambition
They had places of honor at banquets (Mark 12:39) Their seats and tables are marked

Reserved" or "VIP"

They devoured widows' houses They use their authority to make the poor dependent upon them
They made lengthy prayers for show (Mark 12:40) They speak powerfully and articulately to impress and intimidate as we listen in awe

Yet Jesus teaches us here that we're to watch out for them - they're not looking out for your interests and they're not worthy of your admiration or emulation.

How do we know if we're sincere in our faith or if we're putting on a show for those around us? Our lives are so steeped in the social networks, reality TV and concern about our image.

The Apostle Paul tells us to make it our ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind our own business, and to work with our hands. In this, he says, we will win the respect of others and will not be dependent on anyone (1 Thes. 4:11).

The elites in our day are to be pitied, for their end will be just as Jesus said, "punished most severely" (Mark 12:40). To be truly happy, we should adopt Paul's advice to lead a peaceful life, produce value with our own hands and be dependent on no one.

Next week, we'll see how the poor widow served as an extreme example of Jesus' teaching.