Well, if you saw me driving around town last week I guess you would have known the serpentine belt on my van’s engine was making so much noise I doubt I could have snuck up on a Rolling Stones concert without being noticed. The normally quiet, soccer-mom/covered wagon/truck/bus/taxi I drive, was screaming at the top of its lungs begging for a belt change. I didn’t want to do any mechanic work in the foul weather so tried to mask the inevitable by applying a “belt dressing” in an attempt to become incognito on the streets once again. As an experienced mechanic of thirty plus years I knew this wasn’t going to make the problem go away, only soothe the hurt with some salve to stop the screaming, but the old man in me said, “You don’t have time to fix it right now. Go ahead and try it. Maybe it will give you a few days reprieve before having to tackle the job.” I showered the belt with the sticky goo from the can and “ta-da” - no more noise - for three miles! Two more applications netted the same results and one more app would certify me as insane, so I stopped at the parts store and bought a new belt. Thirty minutes of wrestling on the “crossways” engine got it installed and now my neighbors are happy.
[Matthew 23:13-15] “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to ...You travel over land and sea to win a single convert and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” Hypocrisy is an unpleasant word. A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be what he is not, or one who pretends to be better than he really is, or wishes to be seen as virtuous without really being so. Thayer defines hypocrisy as “the acting of a stage player.” Strong defines the same word as “acting under a feigned part, i.e.: deceit.” The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as “the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more laudable beliefs than is the case.” Does this definition define anyone that came in contact with Jesus? It is the scribes and Pharisees. And Jesus talks directly to them and tells them their hypocritical behavior in Matthew 23:13-36. Jesus is using their behavior as a warning to others and even us. Do not be like the scribes and the Pharisees. Why? Because they are hypocrites. So, how about us today? Our outward appearance and our inner character must match. In this regard, the poem, The Praying Hypocrite by Whitney Montgomery, will help us: I knelt to pray when day was done, And prayed, “O Lord bless everyone; Lift from each saddened heart the pain, And let the sick be well again.” And then I woke another day, And carelessly went on my way; The whole day long I did not try, To wipe a tear from any eye. I did not try to share the load, Of any brother on the road; I did not even go to see, The sick man just next door to me. Yet once again when day was done, I prayed, “O Lord, bless everyone.” But as I prayed, into my ear, There came a voice that whispered clear, “Pause now, my son, before you pray; Whom have you tried to bless today? God’s sweetest blessings always go, By hands that serve Him here below.” And then I hid my face and cried, “Forgive me, God, I have not tried, But let me live another day, And I will live the way I pray.” Those who would grow to be mature Christians must lay aside “guile” and “hypocrisy” (1 Peter 2:1-3), practicing an unfeigned love for both God and man (Romans 12:9, 1 Peter 1:22-23). Screaming for more “meism” only produces more law. Replacing it with God’s will makes life worthy.