Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.
Luke 12:1a-2, NLT*
This is Jesus’ warning to His disciples. He’s just been to dinner at a Pharisee’s house and confronted the religious leaders about their hypocrisy (Luke 11:37-54). Perhaps some of the disciples were there too.
Jesus often called out the Pharisees for their showy ways and love of public admiration, and for the burdens they laid on the people performance-wise. One thing He said at the dinner was this:
What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. (Luke 11:42, NLT*)
Now He’s warning His disciples about the Pharisees’ contagious example. The point I’m taking for myself and this generation of the church, which has its own stain of hypocrisy, is this: Do the outward acts, the tithing and good deeds (The Book of James has a lot to say about that) but “do not neglect the more important things.”
What’s more important than doing? Being. (click to tweet that)
Being right with God. Close to Him, my spirit lined up with His, listening to Him and obeying. Worshipping. Living confidently in His care.
If inward purity is important – and it is – and if we’re cultivating “the more important thing” of a close relationship with God, it’s bound to show in our character and in our actions.
Not that we’ll be perfect. When we slip up, it may look like hypocrisy, but it won’t be. It’ll be a humbling opportunity to be open with the people around us about our – and everyone’s – need to rely fully on God’s grace, forgiveness and strength. We can’t allow fear of failure to keep us from shining for God, but we must be careful to shine to please an audience of One. Not for the people around us.
God our Father, You call us to grow in the image of Your Son, whose righteousness grew from His relationship with You. The outward life is easier for us to measure, but You see our hearts. Call us deeper in faith, love and obedience, purify and renovate us within, so that what comes out of us will be pleasing to You.
May God help us to pray this song back to Him and to really mean it: “Refiner’s Fire,” sung here by Hillsong.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.