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Tom Scotus

The Pharisee In All Of Us

Flickr Image by: Michele Madalena OliveiraI once dated a woman named Stella. She would often arrive late for our dates. When I’d complain, she’d say, "You've got a problem. People can’t always be on time. I’ve got a good reason for being late.” So I decided to conduct an experiment. I started arriving late. “What’s the matter with you?” she would then scold me. “Can’t you be on time?”

A whore will often call another loose woman a whore. That’s the pot calling the kettle black and a perfect example of hypocrisy. This type of thing is inherent in our sinful, fallen natures. We see other people’s faults with 20/20 vision and many of us love to point them out. But we often try to hide our faults, downplay them or rationalize them. I’m amazed by the “selective amnesia” that many people display. They seem to forget the evil that they have done, but I’m sure that God hasn’t forgotten.

There’s an old saying that each of us has two sets of rules, one for ourselves and one for everyone else. We expect others to not litter, to not slander, to be punctual, to be honest, to be kind, to work hard and to be moral. Yet, we often do not try to live up to these ideals ourselves. We tend to demand that others tolerate our imperfections but we are often not patient with theirs.

God hates hypocrisy. A hypocritical person’s life is full of lies and deception. Jesus was more critical of the Jewish religious leaders (Pharisees) than anyone else because they were hypocrites. They seemed righteous but were not. They fooled the public, but they did not fool God. When Jesus pulled off their sanctimonious masks and exposed them as frauds, they plotted His destruction.

We tend to think that only other people are hypocritical, but there’s a Pharisee, alive and well, in each of us. I’m very good at preaching righteousness, but my actions often fall far short of my ideals. When I point my finger at others, I have to remember that three are pointing back at me. I need to become my own harshest critic. I need to not be insulted when other people point out my faults (even if they have similar faults). I need to thank them for their honesty and then work on becoming a better person.

To the extent that I am a hypocrite, I am living a lie. I am not admitting my sins to myself or to God. God cannot forgive me if I do not confess my sins to Him and honestly repent. There will be no phony saints in heaven.