THE LEAVEN OF HYPOCRISY

The English Oxford Living Dictionaries defines hypocrisy as ‘the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case.’

Merriam-Webster defines hypocrisy as a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.’

Collins English Dictionary defines hypocrisy as pretending to have qualities, beliefs, or feelings that someone does not really have.’

Simply put, hypocrisy refers to pretentious thoughts/beliefs, words, actions/behaviour of a person.

We are hypocrites as global citizens, when we express deep concern about the increasing global temperatures and climate change while using multiple gadgets emitting CFCs and owning a fleet of personal vehicles for ourselves, when just one would be sufficient. As parents we are hypocrites when we say that we wish to instill good values in our children, but do not hesitate to exhibit foul behaviour when with a group of friends or at the workplace. Those politicians, who dole out heaps of promises of change and development in their election campaigns with just the intention of garnering votes without any efforts to fulfill the promises, are hypocrites. When we look within ourselves and around us, we will not fall short of examples of hypocrites – people who do not walk the talk.

Hypocrisy has so much seeped into our lives and systems, that it is not too obvious a trait to be singled out and considered erroneous. Where we have heinous crimes happening all over the world every day, who would even care to bother about hypocrisy! Seems frivolous, right? But in the eyes of God, hypocrisy is as undesirable as is any other atrocious criminal act. Hypocrisy is an internal character trait which has external manifestations in identifiable and/or latent ways.

When preaching to the multitudes, Jesus Christ cautioned the people to beware of hypocrisy. “. . . Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1)

It’s interesting to note that Jesus equated hypocrisy with leaven. Leaven is a substance that causes a lump of dough to rise. Adding a leavening agent (yeast, baking powder, baking soda or steaming) makes the dough or batter fluffy and the end products (cakes, breads, cinnamon rolls and other such food stuffs) soft and spongy. Hence, don’t expect to be showered with compliments if you have missed out on adding baking powder to your cake batter!!

It’s a marvel what a little yeast can do to bread or what a teaspoon of baking powder can do to cakes! They make the baked products appealing to the eye and delicious for the tongue. Softer foods of this genre are thus preferred over the ones that are a bit hard to touch. The difference is felt because of the presence or absence of adequate or inadequate leavening agents.

In the days of Jesus, the Pharisees were an influential religious sect within Judaism. They took pride in knowing all the laws mentioned in the Torah and in observing them. And so, they considered themselves to have religious superiority, never losing an opportunity to despise those whom they found to have deviated from the mark. So much so, that they legitimised certain traditions and customs based on the laws which went to an extreme that God never intended to prescribe for the people to follow.

Jesus narrates a parable of one such self-righteous Pharisee and a humble tax-collector who went up to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee prayed thus – ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ (vs.11-12) The Pharisee took pride in who he was and in the way he was living according to the law given by God. So, in his self-assessed opinion, he had all the merits for his prayers to be heard by God.

The problem with the Pharisees was that they were people of double standards. While acknowledging God’s laws and adhering to them word by word, they did not understand the very essence of it all. Their external deeds of righteousness were limited to just those acts. There was no change within their hearts. Just as leaven puffs up a lump of dough, the righteous acts of external obedience puffed up the Pharisees. And so, Jesus cautioned the multitude to beware of the leaven of Pharisees.

In Matthew 23, Jesus minces no words in referring to the Pharisees as hypocrites, saying, “. . . for they say and do not do.” (vs.3) The Pharisees ordered people around to do certain things, but never did those things themselves. Jesus goes on to pronounce eight woes on the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and perjury calling them ‘blind guides’ (vs.16) and ‘whitewashed tombs’ (vs.27).

Are our hearts aligned with our external deeds?

1 Samuel 16:7 says, “. . . For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

We may be people who drop down to our knees seeking God’s intervention for every problem that we face. We may be ‘spiritually disciplined people’ who would not dare miss church on Sundays. We may be among those who do not have breakfast before reading the Bible every day. We may be active members in the worship. All good! But, this is not merely what God means when He asks us to walk according to His principles. God does not seek mere ritualistic obedience or legalism in our relationship with Him. He wants our lives to be in congruence with His statutes from the inside out – thoroughly cleansed and totally surrendered to His ways.

If you are living a life of double standards today, you may boast of the fact that you have been successful in hoodwinking people around you. However, nothing ever remains hidden from the Omniscient God. The warning that Jesus gave the multitude that day stands ever so applicable even today because God sees the heart of each man. Jesus said –

“For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:2-3)

All secrets will be unravelled, all devious schemes will be exposed and all hidden propagandas will be declared out loud and clear by God.

God doesn’t desire to gaze on the masks of goodness and holiness that we so proudly adorn. He hates them! God doesn’t care for outward righteousness, external beauty, the offerings that we give or the heaps of good works that we may do to appease Him. “. . . All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags . . .” (Isaiah 64:6). He penetrates deep within our souls to examine if our lives are in consonance with the external acts of obedience that we proudly and self-righteously flaunt.

Our external facades of goodness may win us popularity, appreciation or companionship of people, but would keep us far away from God. Leaven changes the very nature of the raw dough/batter and puts before us products that appeal to our senses of sight, taste, smell and touch. So does hypocrisy! Hypocrisy alters our very natures inside out, so that even though the outside is portrayed as alluring, the inside picture is somewhat different.  Our behaviours laced with hypocrisy help us to win the hearts of people, but take our hearts away from God.

God desires genuineness and truthfulness from us. Walking in the liberating pathways of truth won’t require adorning veils that would shroud our real selves.

What is it that is preventing you from being the ‘you’ whom God created? Identify it and deal with it by God’s strength. Do not allow the leaven of hypocrisy to mix with your pure nature. Shake it off! You are precious in the sight of God! Practise what you preach and profess in the light of God’s principles. Walk the talk. At the same time, beware of the hypocrisy of the people around you so that you don’t end up being trapped in their false ways of life.

 

 

My Prayer for us: Lord, remove the leaven of hypocrisy from our lives. Give us discerning spirits to beware of the hypocrisy of others. Amen.

 

 

3 thoughts on “THE LEAVEN OF HYPOCRISY

  1. C kumar

    ..”God desires genuineness and truthfulness from us. Walking in the liberating pathways of truth won’t require adorning veils that would shroud our real selves.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: THE LEAVEN OF MALICE – TORCHBEARER

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