Andy B starts this week’s GoDeeper with a prime example of hypocrisy, in which someone balances precariously on a ladder which is balancing on two tables and says, “don’t do this at home.”
He draws our attention to the Pharisees of the Bible who were very hypocritical, so much so that Jesus called them ‘white-washed tombs’. They knew the law like the backs of their hands but did not live it out.
Andy B points out that outward actions, which seem hypocritical, don’t necessarily point to hypocrisy, but what goes on in the heart does. And God sees our hearts.
He draws to a close with observations of hypocrisy in churches and a reminder of the humanity of those who show hypocrisy. At one level none of us are any better; everyone has fallen short of God’s glorious standards.
So GoDeeper with Andy B, with a cold, I'm afraid. But today we're looking at hypocrisy. Do as I say, not as I do. I don't know if you've ever observed somebody who was on top of a ladder. And they had a pole in their hand which they'd gaffa taped to another pole with a paintbrush at the other end and they were standing on the very top of the ladder leaning and the ladder was on two tables, which happened to be on four chairs, to give them the height they wanted. And they say, Oh, don't do this at home. Now I've been in that position, it wasn't a particularly sensible thing to do. But I got the job done. Not advising that whatsoever.
However, in life, sometimes we want to take the risk so that others don't have to. And that's okay, sometimes do as I say, not as I do could be, for example, when I was asked to take a guy out one day, he, he's a lorry driver like you, but he's thinking about becoming a crane operator. My truck had a crane on the back. Could you show him how to use it, see if he's any good, if he's got a natural feel? Yeah, no problem, got to the site, we were moving a massive cabin sort of 40 foot long, several tonnes in weight. So you know, it's a big deal. Safety is always a bit of a thing for me. And he was really dangerous. He just had no concept of hand eye control. You've got to look at the cabin, you've got to know what your hands are doing. And yes, you can learn certain things. But if you can't do it vaguely okay from the start, you just can't do it. It's dangerous. So I took over and he said, 'This really isn't for me.' And I said, 'Yeah, I know because you were terrifying me.' So I got on with the job. And that was all good.
Sometimes do as I say, not as I do. You've got to be careful that what people see isn't necessarily the truth. People looking at the operator crane might think various things. But I was always extremely safe. I was always very, very fastidious. I had a hard hat, I'd always do a site ground check on the cables in the air, all that kind of stuff. And I used to get into a few altercations with various builders. 'Ah well, the other driver would have done it.' Yeah, but the other drivers also had lots of accidents, and I've got zero and there's a reason for that. Do as I say, not as I do could be, Well, do as I'm asking you to do not as I'm doing because you're not qualified to do what I'm doing. We're looking at hypocrisy in Scripture. We're not talking about that kind of do as I say, not as I do. This is, I really do know better and I really really shouldn't be saying this.
Let's just turn to Matthew 23, 27. Jesus talking to the hypocrites, the religious leaders.
"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 dead men's bones and everything unclean."
I'm not sure how you can be more unpleasant in your in your description of a person that you're speaking to. But Jesus was right. They were like whitewashed tombs. They knew the law. They just didn't live it. They knew of Jesus, but they didn't believe Jesus when they saw Him. And they were living this hypocritical life. When they knew the law, but they weren't living by it. And when Jesus came to fulfil the law, they were still hanging on to the old ways. And let's not forget that a lot of what the religious leaders did with with their laws, they were not Biblical commands, they took the Old Testament, 10 simple rules. Jesus came along, simplified it down to two without losing any of the original wisdom or truth. And yet He got two out of it to fulfil everything.
The religious leaders took those 10 Commandments and they made many, many hundreds of rules, which was a bit ridiculous. And this is why Jesus refers to them as whitewashed tombs. He was not being polite or kind, but then they didn't deserve that. Let's flick to Matthew chapter seven, verse five, which says this. "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners, to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." And it goes on to say when you pray, go into a room be quiet, pray silently to God.
I saw a really good dramatised reading one day, and it was the widow's mite, the lady that came to the to the church to the temple, and she, she gives her purse and she empties her purse. Every single bit of her worldly wealth she empties into the offering plate at the church. And then this man comes along. There's photographers and lots of paparazzi, and there's lights and glitz and 'Look at me, here's a million pounds.' And then Jesus says to him, 'You've not given me anything. But this woman is far more important because she's given everything.' And this is the thing, we want to be seen to be doing good stuff, but, but God sees the heart. It isn't just what we say or just what we do, whilst important, we can't go round beating up people. But we're not to go around doing that. But at the same time, what we do and our actions, they're not necessarily evidence of what's going on in our heart because we lie. We masquerade, we pretend to be people that we aren't in order for people to think of us more than we are.
Let me just turn to Matthew 12, verse 33, which is really where we're focusing today. And I've helpfully taken the little tag out of me Bible, so I can't find it, which is brilliant. Matthew 12, 33, which says this,
"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad, its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit."
When we first come to faith, as a 30 year old person, perhaps you've been involved in crime, you've been dealing drugs, you steal cars, you've slept with lots of women, and you come to Christ and you suddenly find yourself face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ and your transformation begins. But that transformation, whilst it is amazing, it's not necessarily going to do with every single sin in your life within a nanosecond so that all of a sudden you're this perfect Christian. The real encouragement for me as a man of God is that I don't have to be perfect. I just have to be working towards becoming like Jesus.
Look at King David in the Bible. This is a man who God says is a 'man after my heart.' This is a guy who God reveres almost, at one level. It's like this is a good man. And yet, what does David do? He kills people. He has them murdered. He has he, he kills people to sleep with wives. He lives a pretty terrible life. But his heart is good. His heart is for Jesus. He just makes lots of mistakes along the way. And that is such an encouragement to every one of us. David was trying to live a godly life. There's an old Scripture. It's from the King James and it says 'buy your fruit will you be known.' What we do is really good evidence of what's going on in our heart. We can lie, sure. We can pretend to be all this and that. And I've seen it in churches.
We used to have a guy that used to get up and pray. 'Let's have a time of prayer from the front.' And he'd stand up and he'd go on and he'd drone, and it was boring and it was irrelevant, and he was just grandstanding. 'Look at me, I'm using all these big long words.' When you spoke to him normally, he was a nice enough guy, but that wasn't who he was. He wanted to appear powerful and to have good words. And he got to the stage where he would decide that we're having a prayer meeting in the church when we really weren't. And it got to a stage, sadly, where the minister actually had to tell him to shut up through the microphone, cause he wouldn't listen, and actually had to go and say, 'Sit down and be quiet.' Because this guy would not come under the authority of the church leader. That's not good.
Being seen to have big, big, good words, it's not enough. We actually need to have a good heart. It isn't what we say, on its own. It's what we say and what our heart is. And it doesn't matter so much if we make a mistake, if our heart is right, as long as we also then go and repent and try not to do that again. Hypocrisy is rife. They did some studies a while ago, and they asked people, 'Why, why don't you want to go to church?' 'Hypocrisy. The church is full of hypocrites.' And you know what, absolutely, I completely agree.
I've been a church leader. I've been in church ministry, full time. Yes, the church is full of hypocrites. It's also full of people who are trying to get it right, who are trying to serve and love Jesus the best they can. There's plenty of hypocrisy, but there's plenty of good people there too. And actually, there's more good people than the hypocrites but the hypocrites tend to shout louder and get more noticed.
Just coming back to this Matthew 12, 33,
"Make a tree good, its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, it's fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit."
What are you recognised by? Are you recognised cause you speed, cause you drink, cause you steal stuff from your workplace? It might just be a pack of pens. It's still theft. What are you known as? Because that comes out of your heart. Because if you know Jesus, you won't want to do those things that are wrong. You're gonna make mistakes, but your desire, your heart will be to not do those things.
Do as I say, not as I do is, is applicable, perhaps, if you're skilled in somewhere that somebody else isn't, like my crane analogy. Do as I say means do as I say, not as I do, because he just didn't listen. And actually he was not safe. And he didn't have my experience. So do as I say, not as I do, meant he was seeing things that weren't true. But the whitewashed tombs, which is what we're talking about here means whatever's going on in your heart, it's going to come out into who you are. If you love Jesus, if Jesus is the main priority in your life, you are going to want to have good fruit.
So, let's pray. Heavenly Father, I pray, Lord God, that you would show us how to have good fruit in our lives. You would show us and teach us how to live lives that are worthy of being called disciples of Jesus Christ. Would you forgive us where we make mistakes? Would you forgive us of the hypocrisy where we're living a double standard, where we, we say we love you, but we swear, where we say we love you, but we speed, where we say we love you, but we're stealing from work? Would you show us those things, Lord, that would make us more like you? Amen.
Written by Andy B