Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! . . . You, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
A little boy was seated next to his father during church one Sunday morning. The father grumbled incessantly throughout the service: the sanctuary was too warm, the preacher was preaching too long. They went out to lunch, and the boy’s father continued to complain: the waiter was too slow, the food when it came was cold. Then the father said to his son, “Let’s pray. Dear Lord, thank You for the time of worship we had and for our pastor whom You used so powerfully this morning. Thank You for this food. In Jesus’s name, amen.”
The little boy looked up at his dad and said, “Does God hear everything we say?” The father nodded, so the boy continued, “Did He hear you this morning when you were fussing about the service? And just now when you were complaining about the food?”
The father said, “Yes, Son, of course He did.”
“Did God hear you when you just prayed?”
“Son, God hears everything we say. Eat your french fries.”
The little boy furrowed his brow. “Then what part does He really believe?”
There are two people you can never fool: God, who sees everything in our hearts, and a child, who is quick to call out hypocrisy when he sees it. I like this definition of “hypocrisy” from newspaperman Ambrose Bierce: a hypocrite is “one who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.” In the life of a Christian, hypocrisy has devastating consequences.
Jesus talked about hypocrisy in the Sermon on the Mount. Remember, this sermon was about what God desires in each of us–the attitudes, affections, and actions that resemble Jesus Christ. The Pharisees in Jesus’s day were only interested in appearing to be spiritual, but Jesus is interested in what is happening in our hearts. And in Matthew 6, Jesus addressed our attitudes and actions in three key expressions of worship: giving, praying, and fasting. This week, we are going to look at what Jesus said about hypocrisy in worship, and specifically the area of giving.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Worship” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.
Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary” (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2007), 93.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org