Religious Hypocrites

JESUS SPEAKING

            Then he said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.  These will receive great condemnation” (Mark 12: 38-40.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Jesus warned his children to be wary of the Pharisees who were abusing their positions of religious authority in order to amass large quantities of wealth.  Outwardly they appeared Godly; they wore the robes of holy men and made long prayers in public for all to see; yet privately they would seize every opportunity to abuse those who were helpless.  Jesus said that they “devour(ed) widow’s houses.”  In the ancient world, widows were very easily exploited.  As a mandatory condition for marriage, a man had to build a house for his bride. If the husband passed away, then the wife would inherit the home.  With no enduring source of income, widows were often forced to sell their homes in order to survive.  A number of the religious Pharisees who claimed to be Godly would therefore exploit the widow’s circumstances; paying far less for the property than it was actually worth.  Many, including these widows were being victimized because they trusted in the outward appearance of Godliness.  Jesus clearly spoke of a day when such vile individuals would be judged for their misdeeds.

            Many years ago, I worked as a sales representative for a tile company.  Having recently become a Christian, most of the other employees were aware of my conversion.  One day, the Pastor of a world famous church located just up the street walked through the front door.  After he and his wife had made a small purchase, they pulled around to the back to pick it up.  As I headed to the loading dock with the sales slip, one of my co-workers (who was not a Christian) contemptuously remarked, “Isn’t that your pastor friend’s car; the one that costs over a hundred thousand dollars?”  Sure enough; there it sat, washed and waxed; in all of its splendor.  My heart was filled with anger and sadness; knowing that he had likely been using God’s name for personal profit. Concerning judgment, the words of Christ were eventually realized, when a few years later, this man and his family lost everything.  His mega church, with all of its expensive buildings, statues, and complexes went bankrupt. In a few short months the church dissolved and the entire establishment was sold to another institution.

            In his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ staunchly warned his followers to avoid hypocrites; especially religious hypocrites who would seek to exploit others and to use God’s name for personal profit.  As Christians we are not to be deceived by the superficial appearance of Godliness.  Rather, we must test everyone to see if what they do is truly of God.  If what a pastor, a teacher, or a preacher says on stage is not synonymous with who they are in private, then perhaps they cannot be trusted.  

            “Lord Heavenly Father, please reveal to us the areas in our lives where we are being hypocritical; and help us to change.  May we always accurately represent You in every area of our lives.  May we be loving, giving, and caring; in public and in private.  Help us to recognize false teachers and religious hypocrites, that we may guide others away from them and toward You.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank you; and we ask and we pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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