Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hypocrisy

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:25-28 NIV)

One of the first things I notice in this paragraph is that Jesus said this to the hypocrites, not about them. For forty years (and it probably has been going on for hundreds of years) I have heard people talk about the hypocrites, saying that churches were full of hypocrites and that is why they do not go to church. Jesus said earlier, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach but do not practice.” There is no virtue in avoiding church because of hypocrites.

The second thing I notice is that a hypocrite is someone who is pretending to be cleaner on the outside than he is on the inside. He spends more effort in appearing clean than he does in being clean, so he paints the outside. Most people do this. Hypocrites are everywhere. Churches may be full of hypocrites, but so are prisons and so are homes. Very few people want to be known as they are on the inside. Wicked people do not want to be known as wicked. There are a few who say, “At least I’m not a hypocrite.” What they are saying is, “I’m dirty on the inside and outside.” True, they are not hypocrites, but they are no cleaner than the hypocrites. Jesus said the way to avoid hypocrisy is “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

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