2021_03_22 Insight Post- Kim Feld
This week's reading- Matthew 23 & 24
Over the last few years, I’ve been heartbroken to find out about men in Christian leadership who have lived double lives. These were men whose work I followed – I read their books, attended their conferences, and embraced what I believed to be their religious leadership ethics. How devasting to learn of abuse of power and of people, women in particular. I couldn’t help but think of these men, religious leaders of our time, when I read Matthew 23.
Beginning in verse 13, Jesus comes down hard on the Pharisees and teachers of religious law in what is referred to as the seven woes or sorrows. He repeatedly refers to these men as hypocrites, a word that literally means to wear a mask. The word hypocrite is also where we get the phrase “two-faced” coming from the Roman god Janus who had one face on the front of his head and one on the back. In a hypocrite, words and actions don’t line up. Jesus says they are like whitewashed tombs, shiny and clean on the outside but dead on the inside. They are like cups that are clean on the outside but filthy on the inside. Worst of all, they use spirituality to cover up sin, just like the fallen leaders of today. Seven different times, Jesus says the words, “What sorrow awaits you….”
It would be easy to read these verses and be relieved that Jesus was talking to them and not us. But it would be foolish to not recognize the universal warning in His words. All of us can be concerned with appearances and projecting the right image versus one that is factual. We can all use spirituality to cover up our sinful habits and behaviors but eventually, it will catch us. Jesus said in Luke 12:2-3: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” In this passage, Jesus is once again talking about hypocrisy. Seems like He thinks it’s a big deal.
Jesus points us to look inside ourselves over and over in Matthew. Are you the same on the inside and outside? Do you act the same at church as your do in the privacy of your home? Is the way you speak the same around everyone or, do you clean it up for certain people? Jesus wants us to be people of integrity in all situations and interactions because He loves us and wants us to be whole.
I hope you will join me in this prayer from Psalm 139 today:
23Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach