Be Still Know
READ: Isaiah 58.4 NLT
“What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarrelling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.”
Nothing is more unattractive than hypocrisy. When I have talked to people who don’t go to church, time and again they have pointed out the gap between churchgoers’ faith and actions. This was precisely the situation that Isaiah was addressing. The people were regular in their attendance at the Temple and they said all the right things. They seemed to take their faith seriously but, in fact, it was all an act. Even when they fasted it was just play acting because they kept on fighting and quarrelling with one another. And the ultimate proof of their hypocrisy was that they treated their employees badly.
Jesus spent a lot of time pointing out people’s hypocrisy. In his day the most educated and committed Jews were the Pharisees. No one could doubt that they took their faith seriously. They were meticulous in the way in which they worshipped and tithed, but Jesus repeatedly told them that they were missing the point. Through making an elaborate public performance of their giving and praying they were showing that it was all an act. They were eager to make a good impression and to be honoured and respected by the people. But Jesus tells them to make their gifts so secretly that even their left hand would not know what their right hand was doing, and to pray with the door shut so that no one could see them. (Matthew 6.1-6)
Let’s not fool ourselves; there’s more than a whiff of hypocrisy about all of us from time to time. We are all far from perfect and we need to be constantly aware of the gaps that can spring up between our faith and our practice. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have honest and open relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters. Within a community of love and encouragement we need to have people around us who care for us enough to speak words of truth to us, to ensure that our faith and actions are telling the same story.
QUESTIONS: How are you guarding against hypocrisy in your own life?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive me for those times when my faith is just an act. Help me to live with integrity and faithfulness to you. Amen
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