Hypocrisy

Frontline Devotion for September 14, 2019 (Season of 'Time After Pentecost')

By: Don Wernly

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Luke 16:14-18

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Just before today's verses Jesus told his disciples the parable of the shrewd manager. This was the topic of yesterday's devotion from Linda Benoit. Suffice it to say here that the shrewd manager was clever in reducing debts but successful in collecting money so that his master was ultimately pleased. But Jesus says, "You cannot serve both God and money." This upset the Pharisees, as Luke points out, because they loved money.

So who are the Pharisees? I spent some time researching this and, as always, it's not simple. The Pharisees in Jesus' time followed the written law and also the oral law that God gave Moses. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, this oral law enabled the Pharisees to interpret the written law according to what God meant and this became the basis for the Talmud. Pharisees believed in an afterlife and in the coming of a Messiah. Eerdman's Handbook to the Bible notes that the Pharisees, "delight was to keep the Law (including, of course, the traditions) in every exact detail." This caused them to not eat with non-Pharisees which, "led to disdain for all lesser mortals, a 'holier-than-thou' attitude which has made their name a term of reproach today." Jesus, in Luke 12:1, captures all of this, "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

Hypocrisy. One of my friends and also past work mate can be really incisive; but, his observations are usually spot-on. He has told me on numerous occasions, "Hypocrisy is the worst of human sins right after murder and rape." Watching all the antics of many business, governmental, and spiritual leaders, I have to agree with him. In the words of Brenda Kessler from our congregation, "People, aren't we fascinating!"

Hypocrisy. Jesus makes it brutally clear, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." Jesus goes on to say that after John the Baptist the kingdom of God is being preached but not one bit of the Law has been lost. No, but Jesus takes the Law a step further. No fault divorce was legal in Jewish Law. Most times men would initiate divorce proceedings, but so could women. Jesus ups the ante by saying, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Let's be honest with ourselves, we are all hypocrites. We say one thing and, invariably, do another. When I write these devotions I try to articulate what God wants us to do. And one of the things he wants us to do is respect others. But, when I see folks doing or thinking what I do not agree with, I really get, "worked up." Worked up, rather than trying to see things from their perspective. "Do what I say, don't do what I do" rings true. People, aren't we fascinating.

Prayer. Father, we thank you for loving us even when we are not loveable. Give us the strength and conviction to follow your will and to act accordingly. Each day cause us to reflect on what we do so that our words and actions will always be pleasing to you. Amen.