Today’s Reading:  Matthew 23

Key Verse:  “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:28

We grow all tired of people saying one thing and living something that’s completely opposite. According to the dictionary, a hypocrite is “a person who pretends to have beliefs or practices which he or she does not actually possess.” As used in the Bible, the term comes from ancient Greek theatre, where one actor would often play two parts. When saying something humorous, he would hold up a mask with a smiley face; when playing a tragic part, he would hold up a mask with a sad face. A good actor could imitate the speech, mannerisms, and conduct of the character he was portraying. The word literally means, “One who hides behind a mask.”

One hot day when they had guests for dinner, a mother asked her four-year-old boy named Johnny to say the blessing for the meal. Johnny didn’t really want to and complained, “Mom, I don’t know what to say!” The mother sweetly replied, in front of her guests, “Oh, just say what you hear me say.” Obediently, Johnny bowed his head and mumbled, “Oh Lord, why did I invite these people over on such a hot day?”

There’s a difference between being a sinner and being a hypocrite. There’s an unspoken assumption that a Christian is someone who doesn’t sin. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, it’s just the opposite.

1 John 1:8 puts it very clearly: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” A hypocrite, or one who wears a mask, claims to be free from faults. A Christian, on the other hand, freely admits the fact that he or she is a sinner. The next verse, 1 John 1:9 describes the difference between a hypocrite and an honest sinner: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” A forgiven sinner consistently seeks to cleansing from sin.

It’s not about being good. It’s about being forgiven. I find it comforting to know that we all mess up. One of the greatest Christians who ever lived was the Apostle Paul. Yet He knew who he was. He writes about it in 1 Timothy 1:15: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.”

You don’t have to fake righteousness before God, we can come to Him as we are.

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