Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Matthew 7:6-8
Nobody was as committed to scripture, to daily Bible reading and to observing every part of the law like the religious leaders of Jesus` days. Therefore, these words of Jesus must have been shocking and offensive. But Jesus is pointing out a risk we are all facing: that all our religious activity can become yet another way to achieve status based on our own self-righteousness with the result that we feel “better” and “superior” compared to other people.
The hypocrite (Greek- hupokrites) was originally an actor. Theatrical make-up in those days took the form of a mask which the actor wore. On it would be painted the character and the mood which the actor portrayed. It might be a smiling face which hid the sad heart of the actor behind it. It might be a face of virtue which hid behind it a life of vice. In acting there can be a great gap between the part which is played and the reality of the life which lies behind it… The same can be true of faith. We can profess much and possess little. I got challenged by today`s Bible reading: how much am I just going “through the motions” when worshiping and reading the Bible? Am I also paying more attention to my appearance in front of other people then to building character and to love others? Am I able to be vulnerable and share with others about my struggles and weaknesses?
Jesus, thank you that you desire me as I am! You know me more then I know myself and you love me! Thank you! Help me to worship you and love you today with my whole heart and to connect to people in an authentic way. Amen