(Today's post by Chris Queen)
Doesn’t it drive you crazy when someone tries to be someone they’re not? Maybe it’s someone who seeks to appear rich and cultured who exposes him or herself as the opposite. Or maybe it’s a person who attempts to look intelligent and blows their cover. Or, worst of all, maybe you’ve seen people who try to make themselves look holy and devout when they’re neither. The harshest word we have for people like these is “hypocrite,” but the generations before us (in that inimitable Southern way) called it “putting on airs.”
Jesus saved some of His most heavy hitting words for those outwardly religious people who put on airs. In Matthew 23, He hits hard at the hypocrites, digging at their deeds and the motives behind them. In verses 23 and 24, He exposes those to nitpick by the letter of the law without committing to the spirit that drives the law. In 25-28 He rails against those who maintain the appearance of righteousness while filling their own lives with greed, selfishness – and death. In 29-32, He condemns those who deny that they have the same attitudes as those who killed the prophets.
He sums it all up by declaring that those who claim to live one way while truly living another are as guilty as those who shed the blood of God’s messengers and prophets:
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
The lesson for us is this: check your motives. Make sure you are living a life that measures up to the truths you claim. Are your acts of worship for show, or do they overflow from a truly grateful heart? Do you give to make yourself look or feel good, or do you give as a measure of gratitude to God? When you share the truth of God’s Word, is it because you have applied it to your own life, or is it just unsolicited advice?
Here’s the deal: our inner lives need to match our outward actions. None of us want to be whitewashed tombs. We shouldn’t want to put on airs spiritually, because when we do, we do ourselves and the body of Christ a disservice.