-Pastor Daniel Williams
In the early years of my ministry I was asked to perform a monologue. This is a dramatic way of dressing up as a Bible character and presenting a Bible lesson, as though I were that character. On this particular occasion I was given the Bibles greatest of heroes to imitate, the Lord Jesus Himself. I had a longhaired wig, a beard that looked like something right of Duck Dynasty and was in full biblical dress. Only it’s not a dress it’s a tunic.
The plan: Come out of nowhere and approach a youth group as they set by a bon fire and just start preaching.
The problem: Cross an electric barbed-wired fence that was supposed to be turned off for my arrival.
The Result: Not only did my garment get caught in the barbed wire, but every time I tried to free myself, I felt the surge of several volts of electricity coursing through my body. Once I freed myself, I fixed my hair and beard, straightened my tunic and I went right into pretending to be the Lord. I was clearly the phoniest Jesus ever.
As we have been studying the gospel of Matthew as a church, we have come across a section in chapter 23 with a dominant theme – the hypocrisy of Israel’s leaders. Hypocrisy is everywhere and affects everyone, even the most sincere and devoted of believers. No one other than Jesus has ever escaped wearing its mask.
The truth is that our fallen nature is a breeding ground for hypocrisy. We lack the fruits of the Spirit, so we pretend. We want to impress others when there is nothing impressive, so we act. We want to give the perspective that God is doing something when in truth, He may not be. But what is hypocrisy? Is it when I choose sin over Christ? Is it when I don’t love God, or others, as I should? Could I classify it as who and what I am every time I sin? No. Hypocrisy is all about pretending. It’s pretending to be more righteous than I really am. Pretending to love the Lord more than I really do. Pretending to be something that, clearly, I am not.
The term finds it origins in Greek drama. Actors would play differing parts and roles and would use masks to signify those opposing parts. The masks they used to accomplish this are where we get our English word for hypocrisy.
The reality is that God is a God who delights in truth and doesn’t want us to pretend. He finds extreme pleasure, not in our performance and acting abilities, but In His performance in our lives. Psalm 51:6 “Behold you delight in truth in the inward being. And you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”
So what can we do? Our first response might be to simply ask for His help. Let the prayer of the psalmist be our prayer. Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way of the everlasting”.
We should believe that our Savoir takes such sweet delight in us, that He will help us be more precisely conformed to his own image, so that we don’t have to pretend any longer.
Next time we will see how the gospel of grace specifically helps us when we feel the need to pretend.
By His Grace and for His Glory