Humility and hypocrisy

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord (Colossians 3:22 ESV).

Jesus saved some of his harshest criticisms for hypocritical Jewish leaders (see Matthew 23). A hypocrite, one who wears a mask, is a person who is duplicitous. Hypocrites say one thing and do another, or think one way and act or speak another.

Peter acted hypocritically in Antioch. Peter ate with Gentiles, but when Jews came from Jerusalem, he separated himself, fearing the “circumcision party.” Many other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s example, even Barnabas (Galatians 2:11-14). Hypocrites are dangerous because they can fool people, and the people they fail to fool often are put off by what they see. Continue reading “Humility and hypocrisy”

Impress God with prayer

Our prayers are important to God, though there are those whose prayers sometimes target human ears, not God’s.

It seems absurd in the extreme that some people pray to be seen and heard by others when prayer is specifically for God. The Lord Jesus talked about this type of person in Matthew chapter 6. He told his listeners that prayer should not imitate “the hypocrites.” The word “hypocrite” in the New Testament hearkened back to the days of Greek theatre. Actors would wear a mask depicting their character. A hypocrite is someone who wears a false face. Continue reading “Impress God with prayer”

Wanting to look good

After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane he was tied up and taken to Annas. Caiaphas was the legal, Roman-appointed high priest that year. Annas was his father-in-law and had been the high priest. Both are referred to as “high priest.”

“The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus replied, ‘I have spoken publicly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple courts, where all the Jewish people assemble together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said. They know what I said.’ When Jesus had said this, one of the high priest’s officers who stood nearby struck him on the face and said, ‘Is that the way you answer the high priest?’ Jesus replied, ‘If I have said something wrong, confirm what is wrong. But if I spoke correctly, why strike me?’ Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to Caiaphas the high priest.” (John 18:19-24 NET)

Continue reading “Wanting to look good”

Hypocrites and church expectations

I recently saw a television show where a religious leader was involved in some kind of distinctly unchristian activity. One of the main characters, a crime detective declares, “It makes you wonder about belief in God.”

By the way, there is a logical fallacy here. To find that people in the church are not perfect is no evidence that there is, or is not, a God in heaven! Continue reading “Hypocrites and church expectations”

Human nature and the Church

So when someone tags us with the hypocrisy label, how ought Christians to respond?

Paul urges us “not to think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3). In other words, we need to develop a clear-eyed, realistic view of ourselves, and our place in the church. Continue reading “Human nature and the Church”

Modern-day Pharisees: let’s get it right

Why is it that the term “Pharisee” has such a bad connotation? And what exactly does it mean to be “Pharisaical” today?

Jesus’ speech in Matthew 23 is directed at this sect, and gives us a lot of insight as to what made many Pharisees contrary to God. Jesus calls them hypocrites 7 times.

There are 2 particular elements constituting their hypocrisy, which are as follows: Continue reading “Modern-day Pharisees: let’s get it right”

The Hypocrite

It came up again in a conversation between, for want of a better term, a conservative member of our fellowship and a more liberal one. The liberal brother was explaining that he no longer believed in the “argument from silence.” Then he made that statement that really caught my attention: “I believe the church of Christ has been hypocritical down through the years when it insists that we sing a cappella, reasoning that the New Testament is silent on the subject of instruments.

The topic of instrumental music can wait for another article. Let’s say something about hypocrisy.

Let’s be clear about something: His terminology was incorrect. He didn’t mean we were “hypocrites” because we sang a cappella, he meant we were “legalistic.” Continue reading “The Hypocrite”

The Trampling Crowd

I avoid crowds, but have been caught in some rowdy multitudes.

When Brazilian President-elect Tancredo Neves’s body lay in state in Belo Horizonte in 1985, the crowds got worked up and several people were trampled to death. I had seen the mood turning dark, so skipped out for home and watched the tragedy unfold on a national TV network.

In one of our city’s nicest shopping centers, a Sunday-night fight among drunks, with chairs and fists flying, drove our family from our table, and we fled without paying. The brawl seemed to grow as it migrated from its point of origin.

Crowds can turn mean quickly. Continue reading “The Trampling Crowd”