I came across a meme on one of my media feeds that corresponded with my Bible reading. It read, “A huge problem for Christians is the secular mindset that singing songs at church is more holy than the work that we do during the week.” You can imagine that the post drew a good amount of response. Yet, I wonder how often do I attribute aspects of Christianity more spiritual than putting my faith into practice? Jesus words to the religious leaders of his day, reminds us of the pitfall of acting spiritual.
Personally, the Lord has convicted me of doing Spiritual things, when my heart has been in the wrong place or when my relationship with my spouse is at odds. It is easy to fake it, rather then deal with the issues. The challenge with this approach is that every time we choose to ignore the Holy Spirit’s conviction in our lives, our hearts grow much colder towards the Lord. The end result is that our spiritual life is like an outfit that we put on when we are around other Christians!
Now, before I jab that area of our lives a little harder, let’s be honest, all of us are hypocrites to some degree. My favorite response to those that refuse to attend church because it is full of hypocrites is, “And there is always room for one more.” So if you are a hypocrite you are welcome here. Let’s work on be less hypocritical and more like Jesus!
The Apostle John shares an account in his gospel where the Pharisees attack Jesus because His men were not washing their hands before they ate. This was a big thing to the religious individuals. It is interesting that Jesus does not address that issue which is focused on man-made rules. Jesus instead focuses on their hypocrisy of breaking one of the 10 Commandments.
It is easy to focus on the Pharisees. We need to be careful, because we are just like them. Historically the Pharisees were the ones that stood for God during the period between the Old and New Testaments. They believed in God and desired to live their lives for Him. They also had a very high view of God’s Word. The original Pharisees were faithful to God. So how do we get from there to Jesus’ statement, ““You hypocrites!” (Matthew 15:7a)
Jesus then addresses the problem for them, and us, by quoting the Prophet Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8–9) The train of our spiritual lives jumps the rails when we choose to fake genuine spirituality rather than make the necessary changes by dealing with our sin. The danger lies in that it is much easier to act spiritual than be spiritual. The trap is that we elevate what others think about us over what God knows about us.
The point of all of this is this- There are no shortcuts to genuine spirituality. Jesus’ quote from Isaiah reminds us that we need to do the hard work and be honest with ourselves and others, especially before God! This work is an ongoing process that allows the Lord to work in our lives helping us to shed the layers of hypocrisy. We are all a work in progress!
If you are feeling a little uneasy right now, let me encourage you to surrender to the Lord and allow him to set you free! “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”(John 8:32)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson