June 30th – Of Masks and Men

By and large the one thing we cannot stand, as a nation, is hypocrisy. Agree? But of course, by that we almost always mean, other people’s hypocrisy.
Jesus of Nazareth used the word more than once when denouncing the very outwardly religious. In fact, Matthew Chapter 23 is a parade of religious hypocrisy which always dresses the part, lives for religious recognition, and gets fanatical about it’s narrow cause.
Hypocrisy is religion done to impress people, not God. It is meticulous about observing the details of custom, but has no place at all for the grand relationship between God and his children. Hypocrisy venerates the past, but is blind to the present. In fact, some of us believe that the Greek word Hypocrites is the name of the mask worn by Greek actors, who in a tragedy always put on the scowling face, and in a comedy the mask with a fixed and permanent smile. The whole essence of hypocrisy is that it is a performance, a false face worn in public to hide the true expression of the face behind it all.
Nowadays people of all beliefs and none, seem to agree that hypocrisy is the worst possible sin, and the word is used of any religious public stand taken, whether genuine or merely ostentatious.
One of the great marvels of the life and work of Jesus was to challenge men and women to take off their masks and be open to God and the world. But that’s not an easy thing to do.
Listen to Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapter 6:
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

Lord, whenever I call someone a hypocrite, I am instantly guilty of that charge myself.

Now read II Samuel Chapter 13.

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