Meanwhile, the crowds grew until thousands were milling about and stepping on each other. Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy.
Dear God, hypocrisy is such a fascinating thing. But let me start with yeast. Jesus uses yeast as his metaphor here. If he had been speaking to us today, I wonder if a more meaningful metaphor to us would be cancer. Beware of the cancer of the Pharisees. Cancer destroys while it grows unchecked. Jesus saw the disconnect between the Pharisees’ words and theology and their actions and actual lives as something that would spread like yeast through dough or cancer through the body.
How many times have I heard people say they don’t go to church anymore because of the hypocrites there? Never mind that, to some extent, we are all hypocrites—even the person complaining. But there are different levels, I suppose. I worked once for a CEO who was a level 9 hypocrite. What I mean by that is he was a completely different person at church than anywhere else. Surprisingly, he would hire people from church (I would have thought he would want to keep his duplicity on the down low) and they would be shocked at the difference between the man for whom they worked and the man with whom they worshipped. Mean, stealing and immoral by week, and talking a good game on Sunday. And I don’t think he recognized his hypocrisy.
So is there anything I can learn from him? Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he couldn’t see his hypocrisy or that it didn’t bother him, what can I do differently to help me see my own?
Of course, it starts with working with the Holy Spirit to inventory my own sins and repenting of them—on a regular basis. Not just saying, “God, forgive me,” but really repenting and turning from my sin. And then turning again when I do the inventory and realize I’ve done it again. Eventually, I will see myself doing it in real time, and then I will eventually stop doing it in real time.
The next step moves into getting closer and close to you so that more and more of my sin is revealed to me. I’m sure I’ve done three things today (at least) that were sins that I don’t even realize, and it’s not even 8:00 a.m. I’ve become aware of things over time. prejudices. Errant beliefs. Selfishness. Judging of others. It’s all there. It’s not just the obvious things in the 10 Commandments like lying and murder, but also the subtle things like making idols to replace you, not observing the Sabbath and coveting what others have.
Father, purify my heart. Make it right before you, and create a pure spirit within me. Let your Holy Spirit move throughout my entire being so that I might see what you need me to see, repent of my mistakes and hypocrisies, and worship you and you alone. And do it all for your glory. So that my life might be used by you for your purposes.
In Jesus’s name I pray,