Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

The body in the Bible: a window on hypocrisy    (9/16/2012 )

Sometimes even the tiniest speck of dust, if it gets in your eye, can be so painful that it takes over completely: you can’t think of anything else until the pain has gone. Haven’t we all been there?

In the book of Luke, Jesus uses the fact that we’ve all had this experience to make a point:

“Why do you see the speck in your brother's eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the log in your own eye?”

Jesus is using an analogy to make a point about hypocrisy. By ‘speck in the eye’ he means something wrong in our lives, such as a sin or a wrong situation. If I pointed out to someone else that they were sinning when I sinned in the same way but on a much larger scale, that would be extreme hypocrisy!

This is also about integrity. How can I call someone else a thief or an adulterer if I not only do the same thing myself, but do it much more? God hears what we say, and knows what we do. We might be able to pretend to one another that we aren’t also sinners, but we can’t get it past God.

Jesus is suggesting that we should be cautious about telling others what they’re doing wrong, since that can be judgmental. Sometimes, we do need to help other people by showing them how they’re getting something wrong, but we can only do that if we don’t make a habit of making the same mistake. In other words, to use an old saying, we should ‘practice what we preach’. And that means that we need integrity and a clean slate ourselves.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus has more to say on the subject of hypocrisy:

"When you give to the needy, don’t announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others… your giving should be in secret. And when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.”

In this example, Jesus was talking about people who cared more about making themselves look good than about the needy or about their relationship with God. Jesus points out that God not only knows everything that we do, he also knows why we do it. There can be no honour in anything we do where the motivation is selfish and perverted.

In everything we do, in our dealings with God and one another, we should remember that our integrity matters, as do our motivations for doing anything. God sees through falsehood and hypocrisy.

And for those of us who’ve been on the receiving end of such lies and twisted thinking, isn’t it a relief to know that he does?

Pray: Father, I know that when I point a finger at anyone, three more of my fingers point right back at me. Help to me to remember to be honest and generous in all my relationships. Amen.

Think about: Why do you think God finds hypocrisy so offensive?

Challenge: Was there anything about this article that stung, because you know you've had a log in your eye even as you pointed out the speck in someone else's? Do you need to change your behaviour, by both removing your own log and stopping pointing out that speck - and bringing it all before God to say sorry?

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