Youth Ministry Lesson on Matthew 23:1-12: Living with Purpose

As teenagers on a journey of faith, it is crucial to understand the significance of humility and authenticity in our relationship with God. We live in a world that often promotes self-promotion, seeking recognition, and striving for power. However, Jesus calls us to a different way of living—a life of humility and genuine faith.

In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus addresses the religious leaders of His time, warning against hypocrisy and the temptation to seek honor and status. This passage gives us valuable insights into the kind of heart and attitude God desires from His followers. Let’s dive into this passage and discover how it applies to our lives today.

Bible Reading: Matthew 23:1-12 (NIV)

“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 honor 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. But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.'”


  • Jesus addresses the religious leaders of His time, cautioning against their hypocritical behavior.
  • The teachers of the law and Pharisees were focused on outward appearances, seeking praise and recognition.
  • They burdened others with rules and expectations but did not practice what they preached.
  • Their desire for honor and status was evident in their clothing, seat preferences, and titles.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define humility? Why is it important in our relationship with God?
  2. Have you ever encountered people who prioritize appearances over authenticity? Share your experiences.
  3. In what ways do you think seeking recognition and honor can hinder our faith journey?
  4. How can we ensure that our actions align with our beliefs? What steps can we take to live authentically?
  5. According to this passage, what does Jesus value—outward appearances or genuine hearts? Why?

Bible Reading: Philippians 2:3-8 (NIV)

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”


  • The Apostle Paul encourages the Philippian believers to adopt a mindset of humility and selflessness.
  • He emphasizes valuing others above ourselves and considering their interests.
  • Paul points to Jesus Christ as the perfect example of humility, who willingly sacrificed Himself for humanity.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some practical ways we can value others above ourselves and practice humility in our daily lives?
  2. In what areas of your life do you struggle with selfish ambition or vain conceit? How can you overcome these tendencies?
  3. How does Jesus’s example of humbling Himself impact your understanding of true greatness?
  4. Can you think of a contemporary figure who exemplifies humility? How does their humility inspire you?
  5. How can adopting a servant mindset strengthen our relationships with others and our faith in Christ?

Youth Group Game: “The Humility Challenge”

Divide the group into pairs. Give each pair a set of challenging tasks that require teamwork and cooperation. Emphasize the importance of encouraging and supporting one another rather than seeking personal recognition. After the game, discuss how humility played a role in their approach to the challenges.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, we thank You for teaching us the importance of humility and authentic faith. Help us to let go of pride and self-seeking desires, turning our attention towards serving others and reflecting Your love in our lives. May we strive to live authentically and humbly, following the example of Jesus. Guide us as we navigate the challenges of our teenage years and deepen our faith in You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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