Friday, August 26, 2011

Hypocrisy Exam #1

This week I've been studying Matthew 23 in preparation for Sunday's sermon. It's the "woe" chapter, where Jesus unmasks the sin of hypocrisy in the lives of the Scribes & Pharisees. It's a powerful chapter. The subtleties of this particular sin are unmasked, we are undeceived about its poisonous nature, and the danger that the hypocrite is in is strongly underlined. Powerful.

But during my study, I came across something a seminary professor of mine once wrote about hypocrisy. He suggested that there are three practical questions we can ask ourselves to test for possible hypocrisy in our own lives.

Question #1: Is your religious/spiritual practice the same in public as in private?

This is a searching question, if we're bold enough to let it do its work. And if we want to have our eyes opened to where hypocrisy is taking root and growing in our lives, it's a crucial question.

And having our "eyes opened" is exactly the way we're supposed to think about it, judging by how many times Jesus uses the adjective "blind" in Matthew 23.

The particular point that my professor highlighted was prayer. "Hypocrites pray at set times, but genuine believers pray throughout a day."

How are we doing with prayer?

G.K. Chesterton once wrote this:

"You say grace before meals. All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and the pantomime,
And grace before I open a book.
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink."


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