Matthew 23:23-26: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. 29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
Remember that a hypocrite is not what he pretends to be. The Greek word comes from the masks that hid the faces of actors on the stage and gave them their character. Behind the mask, they were altogether different. Pharisees were like beautiful tombs – whitewashed on the outside and full of dead bones on the inside. They prided themselves on being people of the law, but on the inside they were just as wicked or more than anyone else. They claimed to love the prophets and yet hated John the Baptist, and even Jesus, who was more than a prophet. I could cite examples of people today who push the same kind of self-righteous message as the Pharisees did, but I would rather ask myself the question, “Where is the hypocrisy in me?”
No one likes to take of their mask. I know that I pretend to be a better Christian than I am. I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting once. It was open to guests and visitors, which is not usually the case. That’s why it is Anonymous. What impressed me most about the meeting was how openly the people there spoke of the problems they faced in their lives as a result of their drinking. They took off their masks and they told each other what they were really like on the inside. They trusted in each other not to speak of their confessions outside the group, and they trusted in each other not to pass judgment on each other. I remember thinking to myself, “I wish we could be more like that in our Bible classes and small group meetings at church.”
We should be. We should trust each other with our confessions. We should trust that we will keep those confessions in confidence. Most of all, we should trust that our brothers and sisters in Christ will respond by reminding us of the forgiveness and peace we have in Jesus. But to do that, we first have to take off our masks.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, i cannot wear a mask before you, because you know me altogether, the good, the bad and the ugly. I freely confess my sins to you, because I know that you will only bring me your mercy and not treat me as my sins deserve. Teach me to trust my brothers and sisters in Christ to be merciful as well, and to show them mercy in return. I ask this in your name. Amen.