Sometimes I read the word of God and it just hits me with a 2 x 4. Ouch! That’s what it’s like reading through the Sermon on the Mount. Right off the bat, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:20, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What was wrong with the scribes and Pharisees? Jesus called them hypocrites because their example and teachings kept people away from God.
The word “hypocrite” was used at that time for stage actors in Greece and Rome who wore masks to reflect particular moods and emotions. The audience never saw the real person. They witnessed only what the mask portrayed.
In the same way, scribes and Pharisees wore “holy masks,” while underneath they were anything but holy!
You and I need to ask the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts. Ask, “Holy Spirit, am I hypocritical in any way?” In some ways, we are all actors and, for that, we need to repent and ask the Lord to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
However, it’s not hypocritical to be nice to someone you don’t like. That’s obedience. God tells us to “love the unlovely,”and we don’t go by our feelings. On the other hand, if you are nice to that person’s face and tear them apart behind their back, you’re a hypocrite. If we act one way at home and another at church, that’s hypocritical.
A true Christian should be kinder to the person no one likes than the person everyone is falling all over. Why? Because he or she needs their kindness more.
We sing songs in church like, “I Surrender All” but do we? Do we even want to, or are we happy the way we are? We read verses like “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors,” but do we really?
Have you forgiven those who have wounded you or offend you on a regular basis? Jesus didn’t call the adulterers, the thieves, the drunks and liars “hypocrite.” No, He saved this harshest criticism for the religious church people of His day! I ask myself, “Don’t we all wear masks sometimes? Is it realistic to think that our heart can match what we portray on the outside? Can we truly be righteous inside and out?” And the answer is ABSOLUTELY YES!
If it weren’t possible, Jesus would never require it of us. What He requires He supplies. How does He do it? By coming to live inside of us, by filling us with His Holy Spirit, filling us with all righteousness. The Sermon on the Mount is only an impossible standard for us to live by if we refuse to let Jesus be Lord of our lives.
I don’t know about you; I can only speak for myself. I know there are a number of areas in my life that He isn’t Lord over because I haven’t let Him be. But I long for that to change, and I’m working on it.
I want the qualities found in the Sermon on the Mount to be a reality in my life and even in the areas I don’t think I want it. I’m willing to pray, “Lord make me willing to be willing.”
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