Are there areas of your life in which you project one image while secretly thinking or acting another way? We clean the outside of the cup and dish real well, don’t we? Does the inside match the outside? Today Jesus challenges all of us to cut out hypocrisy…
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
53 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.
Luke 11:37-46, 52-53
I think Jesus knew what buttons to push with some people. With the Pharisees, Jesus violated their holy expectations in a way that provoked response and dialogue which exposed their wrong thinking. In this case, the image Pharisees gave was of righteousness and holiness, yet under the hood they had engine problems. Their true hearts were far from some of the piety of their looks.
Before you think about the people you know who fit this description, maybe think about whether you might be a Pharisee yourself… Me? Couldn’t be. Well, think about whether there are areas of your life in which you project one image while secretly thinking or acting another way. Got your attention? We are all at risk of living in the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. We are all tempted to be holier than thou at some point.
We clean the outside of the cup and dish real well. We do our hair and make-up just right for church, don’t we? When we go to the school reunion we suck in the gut and push out the chest, right? We give to charity and then walk by the homeless person. Does the inside match the outside?
Jesus says we should add justice and love to our financial giving. Don’t forsake one for the other. Do both. And we should humble ourselves to give up the profile and prominence to take a back seat or a back row in favour of others. Stop taking the attention…
If you are feeling insulted, take heart. So were the Pharisees. We’re in good company.
In their case, their false holiness prevented them from entering God’s family, and their actions hindered others from entering. Think about that for a moment. Does our hypocrisy work against unbelievers taking steps toward faith? I think it does, and it’s shameful and harmful. We would never want to do anything that would interfere with someone encountering God, would we?
Then abandon self-righteousness. Abandon false holiness. Take up humility and mercy and justice. Follow Jesus. Not the Pharisees.