Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.2 But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. 3 Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.
4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; 9 but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. 11 When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Everybody knows that verse that says "Be sure your sin will find you out," right? Now, in Numbers Moses is speaking to the two tribes who want to remain on the near side of the river, telling them they have to come across and fight for the other tribes before they can come back and have that land for themselves, but my experience is that this phrase is true of pretty well everything. Sooner or later, somehow, secrets, lies, manipulations, etc. work their way to the surface and become known. Maybe not by everyone, but certainly by someone. And always by God.
I found helpful the way Mark Driscoll clarifies hypocrisy in his sermon Jesus and Fear:
Now, Christians are often accused of being hypocrites and let me say a few things on this. Number one, some people who say they’re Christians aren’t. Some aren’t, like if you asked these guys, “Do you believe in God, love God, worship God?” They’d say, “Yeah.” But Jesus says they don’t really know him or love him. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. Some will hear, ‘Depart from me, I don’t even know you. We don’t have a relationship.’”
Number two, some Christians are hypocrites and a hypocrite is one who pretends they’re something they’re not. But that’s not only Christians. Politicians do it, leaders do it, non-Christians do it. We give the presentation that we’re holy and devout and pious and moral and good, and if you followed us around and looked at what we were doing, you would see some inconsistency.
Number three, most Christians aren’t hypocrites because to be a Christian you have to confess and profess that you’re a what? A sinner. So sometimes non-Christians will look at Christians and say, “Well, you’re a hypocrite.” “Why?” “Because you’re sinning.” “To become a Christian, I had to raise my hand as being a sinner. If being a Christian means you say you’re a sinner, and I sin, that’s not hypocrisy. I’m just being consistent. I said I was a sinner. I sin. That’s not a hypocrite.” By definition, a Christian is one who says, “I’m a sinner. Jesus died for me, that’s how bad I am. I really need help. God, help me.” That’s a Christian.
Now, the hypocrite is the one who says, “You have a lot of sin, I don’t have it. You struggle with it, I don’t. I’ll judge you, you can’t judge me.” And then you follow them around and you realize, “Hey, they’re ripping people off and committing sexual sin and all the stuff they’re telling everybody else not to do, and all of the stuff that they deny doing, that’s the very thing they’re doing.”
The other thing that I appreciated from the sermon was his talk about fear of man. In our women's Bible study at my church one of the ladies once said something about death being the worst thing that could happen to someone. Someone else made the comment that she wonders whether we put too much emphasis on this life, on our temporal bodies. For me, that hit the nail on the head. I think often we do put a lot of emphasis on self-preservation. I'm certainly not saying we shouldn't be mindful of safety and take care of our health, and so on, but reality is that in the end, our bodies and our lives here on earth are temporary. Everyone dies sooner or later. This is only the worst thing that could happen to someone who is not saved. We as Christians should have a different mindset. Death is the best thing that can happen to us. We get to be with Jesus! We get to live in Heaven, see our loved ones who have passed on before us, praise God with the angels! We don't have colds, or the flu, or allergies, or arthritis, or migraines! (I am not saying I am anxious to die, by the way, I enjoy my life on this earth very much. I'm just saying it's unavoidable, and not the worst thing that can happen by far. I would prefer not to pass away until my children are at least grown, and if I had my way I'd live to a ripe old age, but that's not within my control.)
Anyway, here is what Driscoll had to say about fear of man:
Let me ask you a few questions pastorally to help you ascertain if you have fear of man issues, and if so, to what degree. Again, this is adapted from Welch’s work. Number one, have you struggled with peer pressure? What people think, what they say, being accepted by that person, being approved by that group of people?
Number two, are you overcommitted, a people pleaser? Your answer to everything is, “Yes, I’ll do that. Yes, I’ll do that. Yes, I’ll do that.” You say, “I’m being holy like Jesus.” Maybe not, because sometimes serving becomes sinning, and you can’t say no because you want to please everybody and in so doing you can’t really please God because God would tell you, “Sometimes you got to say, ‘No.’”
Number three, is self-esteem a critical concern for you? Is it a big deal?
Number four, are embarrassment or shyness common for you? Embarrassment is, “I just don’t want anybody to make fun of me. I don’t want to be the center of attention. I don’t want to get into any trouble, so what I’m going to do, I’m going to withdraw, retreat. I’m just going to be shy and hide and try not to get in any visible conflict or trouble.”
Number five, do you second-guess decisions because of what people might think? “Yeah, I’ll do that. Oh, but they’re not going to like that. Yeah, I’d love—oh, but what are they going to say? What are they going to think? Oh, boy.” And you’re always second-guessing your decisions. “Yeah, God would like me to do that. But they wouldn’t. Uh oh, what am I going to do?” I had this conversation with a woman a little bit earlier today. “I want to be a Christian and walk with Jesus.” “Okay, why don’t you?” “I don’t think my husband would like that.” Okay, so you’ve got two lords here and you’ve got to figure out which one you’re going to go with.
Number six, do other people often make you angry, depressed, or drive you crazy? If so, they may be inordinately centered in your life. They’re too big of a deal.
Number seven, do you avoid people? Okay, I’ll just come clean, that’s my tactic. Certain people, it’s like, “You are very emotionally expensive. I’m going to avoid you.” Okay, I have tricks and I’ll tell them to you. I avoid eye contact and I avoid certain situations and people. I’m not saying it’s holy and it’s not loving and it’s not helpful to people, but it’s what I’ve done. Grace will be like, “Do you want to go talk to them?” “No. I don’t.” “Well, they look like they want to talk to you.” “I know, I know, I know.” She’s very sweet. “But you should help them, you’re their pastor.” “Yeah, I know, I know, I know, I know.” “So why don’t—” “Yeah, it’s not going to happen, okay?” So that’s how I deal with it. It’s not holy, it’s not helpful.
Number eight, do you take too much responsibility for other people? If so, maybe you want to be their lord. “I’ll save you, I’ll fix you, I’ll heal you.” What, is your name Jesus? Oh, it’s not? Okay, then maybe you’ve given yourself the wrong job description.
Number nine, are you too committed to being nice, keeping peace, and avoiding conflict? Some of you were taught, “Christians are nice. They make peace and they avoid conflict.” You’re like, “I’m being a good Christian.” You may be a bad Christian because Jesus isn’t always nice, Jesus doesn’t always make peace, and Jesus doesn’t avoid conflict.
Now, Jesus isn’t rude, he doesn’t pick a fight, but when somebody picks a fight with him, he doesn’t just accommodate and acquiesce and submit to them.
I don't like conflict. I don't like to be embarrassed. There are quite a few of these things noted above to which I could raise my hand. How about you?
Sorry this is so late! This week just got away from me. I knew what day it was, but didn't know what day it was, you know? Have a great long weekend!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: