“You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”
This Jesus at His most scorching. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees really come in for it here. Seven woes, seven imprecations against these masters of hypocrisy and condemnation. But there’s the rub.
I am a hypocrite and I live in a society of hypocrites. Where has the true person fled in our day? They wisely have shut themselves away. We can no longer imagine anyone who walks their own talk, who eschews all manner of self-interest in favor of the plain spoken truth.
We shake our fingers at celebrities and religious leaders and celebrity religious leaders who have been found out. But we allow everyone their own little slice. Sometimes we call it their point of view. Sometimes we call it personality. But at what point do these petty niggling inconsistencies turn into full bloomed hypocrisy? AT what point should we be concerned?
How about this: Let’s reverse the seven woes here and turn them into seven blessings and see where that takes us? Here goes:
- Blessed are you when you open the doors of the kingdom of heaven. Having entered yourselves, you remove any barrier that might keep others from following you.
- Blessed are you when you, even in the simplest acts of kindness, win someone over to heaven. May you both flourish in the fullness of life!
- Blessed are you when what you say is true, regardless of audience or authority.
- Blessed are the righteous, who live it out their holy calling in matters both significant and seemingly insignificant.
- Blessed are you when your first concern is the purity of your soul.
- Blessed are you when you give up trying to look more holy than you really are.
- Blessed are you when you have the humility to admit yourself subject to the same weakness as everyone else.
May we be such people of integrity, honesty, spirituality and joy!
Lord, I don’t want to be a Pharisee. I want to follow you in grace and truth. I want my life to be pervaded by such things. Weed out all the reasons, both big and small, both obvious and subtle, that keep me from being the person you want me to be. Amen.