HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 13, 2007, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Beware of hypocrisy

Pastor Robert Ramphal, Oster First Covenant Church, Waverly

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus spoke extensively about the subject of hypocrisy, because there was a lot of it in the Old Testament and he was seeing a similar behavior in his time.

While instructing the leadership of the New Testament church, He wanted us to know that God was watching our behavior toward our fellow man.

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter six, verses one through five, He says, “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven.

“When you give to the poor, don’t blow a loud horn. That’s what show-offs do in the meeting places, and on the street corners, because they are always looking for praise. I can assure you that they already have their reward.

“When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know about it. Then, your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret and he will reward you.”

In Matthew, verses 15-17, He says, “When you go without eating (fasting), don’t try to look gloomy as those show-offs do when they go without eating. I can assure you they already have their reward.

“Instead, comb your hair and wash your face. Then others won’t know that you are going without eating. But your Father sees what is done in private, and he will reward you.”

Jesus addressed people who think they are smart and educated and like to impress people. Apparently, a group of leaders from the synagogues tried to test Jesus by praising him and at the same time, trying to trap him.

In Matthew 22:15-21, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that you are honest. You teach the truth about what God wants people to do. And you treat everyone with the same respect, no matter who they are. Tell us what you think. Should we pay taxes to the emperor or not?”

Jesus knew their evil thoughts and said, “Why are you trying to test me? You show-offs! Let me see one of the coins used for paying taxes.”

They brought him a silver coin and he asked, “Whose image and name are on it?” “The emperor,” they answered. Then Jesus told them, “Give the emperor what belongs to him and give to God what belongs to God.” His answer surprised them so much that they walked away.

I want to cite some indictments Jesus made about hypocrisy in people and especially, in early church leadership. He says in Matthew 23:13-33, “You Pharisees and teachers of the law of Moses are in for trouble. You are nothing but show-offs. You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You won’t go in yourselves and you keep others from going in.

“You travel over land and sea to win one follower. And when you have done so, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are. You are supposed to lead others, but you are blind . . . you wash the outsides of your cups and dishes, while inside there is nothing but greed and selfishness. First clean the inside of a cup, the outside will also be clean.

“You are like tombs that have been whitewashed. On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth. That’s what you are like. Outside you look good, but inside you are evil and only pretend to be good.”

Jesus was telling all those who were around him, his disciples, and us today that we need to live a consistent life of truth and honestly. He wants us to walk singularly in him and to mentor our behavior to others so that they, too, can become faithful and true in their fellowship with God.

Jesus wants us to be responsible for our own behavior and to make the necessary changes first, before we try to help others. He does not want His church to be scandalized by us.

As Christians, our goal is always to live righteously in Him day and night. We must remember it is only through Christ and His atoning blood that we can become whole and receive our just reward.

If there is anything blocking your relationship with Jesus, all you have to do is go to Him and repent, and He will graciously forgive you.

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