What Sorrow Awaits You…Hypocrites! | Matthew 23:23-33


Mat 23:23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
Mat 23:24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!
Mat 23:25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence!
Mat 23:26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
Mat 23:27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.
Mat 23:28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Mat 23:29 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed.
Mat 23:30 Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’
Mat 23:31 “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.
Mat 23:32 Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started.
Mat 23:33 Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?

The more important aspects of the law

I had an experience not too long ago where the Holy Spirit impressed me to use one of the texts above to help a dear friend. Considering the temperature of the statements above, how do you think I might have approached this? After all, Jesus is very busy rebuking and chastising, not comforting.

My friend was struggling with being emotionally hurt by someone. They were wondering why people who profess to be Christians can seemingly do such damaging things to each other.

My friend is a Christian, one whom I think has a strong relationship with Jesus and I care for this person very much…but at this moment they were struggling. I felt a deep desire to help. I wanted to comfort and encourage…and the Holy Spirit led me to Matt 23:23. Mind you, I wanted to comfort my friend and as we are sitting in their living room the Holy Spirit impresses me to go to this verse and direct it “at” my friend.

Mat 23:23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

Imagine. Here I am wanting to comfort and consul my friend and I’m asked by Jesus to show them that they are being hypocritical. I must say that I was more than a little frightened to even bring it up, but I felt strongly impressed and so I did. I read the verse and then pointed out the fact that my friend  was  going through a process of developing a stronger relationship with Jesus – strengthening the bond – seeking to have His Mind; but then turning from that and holding onto anger and resentment and “ignoring the more important aspects of the law – justice, mercy, and faith.”

Dear readers. I was scared to do this. I didn’t want to hurt my friend and here I was rebuking her with the Word of God, albeit in a kind way. I was so sure that she would consider it a mean thing to say and then the hurt would only grow instead of heal. WHAT LITTLE FAITH I HAD!…even as I was doing the will of Jesus.

It turned into a beautiful Spirit filled moment. Instead of having a repellent effect it had a magnetic effect. I could see her struggling with the thoughts it brought up and then coming to the realization that she was “Forgiven Much!” How could she hold these feelings for someone else when Jesus was so willing to love her. She repented right then and we thanked God for His loving kind direction and it was as if a heavy weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. BEAUTIFUL!

Here’s the amazing part. I was used even in my unbelief. And, furthermore I started to contemplate my own feelings and actions. How am I like a Hypocrite? I started to realize that we can so easily become a hypocrite when we start to do outward things that make us look and feel holy…

  • Writing a Bible based blog (Doh!)
  • Doing more church activities
  • Spending more time in prayer
  • Teaching others about Jesus
  • Helping those in need

…but then neglect the inward changes, like forgiveness for those who have hurt us – mercy, justice, and faith. Too often, and I mean WAYYYY to often, we apply the weightier things of the law to other people, and never to ourselves.

Consider this. What is the state of Laodicea? They are blind and naked, yet they think they are rich and have need of nothing. Oh what miserable people we really are. When will we stop seeking to fix others…and start to clean the inside of the cup. When will we stop pointing to the sins of our neighbor and start to cleanse our own hearts? When will we drink the whitewash and let it purify the inside?

When will we stop killing the prophets…..?

Prayer:

Lord Father in Heaven,

Thank You so much for being willing to show me my own sin. Help me to consider the things that I must allow you to change and to stop looking to change others. I can only become truly useful to you as I become more about the real principle of Your law and not the outward appearance. Thank you for loving me that much!

Be with my children today. Protect them and forgive their sins. Cover them with Jesus’ robe of righteousness. Amen.

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