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Hypocrisy – Jesus goes after it.

Hypocrisy – Jesus goes after it. Matthew 23 

What is a hypocrite? In Matthew 23, Jesus gives us two hints: 
1 - they do not practice what they preach. (v.3) Yes, a hypocrite says one thing and does another. I have certainly been a hypocrite in my lifetime—knowing what God’s word requires, knowing the ‘right thing’ to do as a Christian, but choosing to go my own way and do what feels good at the time. 

2 - Everything they do is done for people to see (v. 5) A hypocrite puts on a mask to appear one way, while his heart is hard and uncaring about holiness. 

Jesus lambastes the Jewish leaders for their hypocrisy, he holds nothing back: 
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 

Seven times in the chapter, Jesus calls the religious right of the day hypocrites. Jesus’ clever symbolism also spells out another element of hypocrisy-- You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Hypocrites are quick to point out the wrong in someone else’s life, while ignoring their own. Jesus calls out this behavior in the teachers and Pharisees, in no uncertain terms. If there had been any doubt before, there wasn’t now—Jesus was a marked man, reviled by the religious leaders he condemned-- they would silence him and soon. 

But what about us? What about now? Hypocrisy is visible all around, from the presidential campaign to local policy to your son’s sports program—people who say what folks want to hear, while in practicality, they do something else. Is there a cure for that which causes such disparity? 

I believe so. Earlier, Matthew captured Jesus’ witty expression of the root of the problem: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."1 

In order to get at the problem of hypocrisy, we must examine ourselves first. Let’s take the ‘log out of our own eye before we worry about the speck in someone else’s eye!’ The psalmist invites our God to look inside and put his finger on that which is not right.2 
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts…” 

The search for hypocrisy must start in my own life. 
God, help me to live a life consistent with what I believe. 

I take you back now to a setting I recently referenced. On June 13, I went to visit my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Stoney at their (now) little farmhouse in Northern California, not too far from Stockton. It was a place I loved going as a little girl, so different from my own home-life in the city. Smack dab in the middle of almond orchards, with tractors, trucks, and irrigation pipes etc., I guess I found the farm life downright romantic. Okay, so many years hence, at ages 92 and 94, I adore my aunt and uncle even more, and their lives serve as role models. 

When I drove away from the visit, I thought, ‘how do I get to be their ages and have few regrets?’ The answer to the question is juxtaposed with a previous discussion I had been having with myself, 
‘how do I live each day in such a way as to please God?’ 

Let’s ask ourselves these questions to start: 
How am I doing? 
Am I living life each day with intention, 
and according to what I believe and value, particularly my faith in God? That must be the starting point to a life with few regrets. 
Hmmm … search us, O God. 


1 – Matthew 7.3-5 
2 – Psalm 139.23-24

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Comment by journeyman on June 25, 2016 at 10:33am

I say thank you also. This scripture is crucial in understanding how we are to self-examine ourselves as we walk with the Holy Spirit. Blessed by this reading Sister. You are a bright shining light my dear.

Comment by David . on June 24, 2016 at 7:06am
Thank you, I enjoyed reading what you said about Hypocrisy, I also am going to read Matt 23, thanks again and God Bless.

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