I’ve been listening to the song “Weight of Lies” from the Avett Brothers’ album Emotionalism. They sing:
Show them all of your good parts,
Leave town when the bad ones start to show.
Isn’t this the inclination of the heart? I like to keep my good works in public view, and keep my shameful side out of sight. Please, notice me for showing up to church on time every Sunday, but don’t look at the way I badgered my family into getting there.
Christ’s Sermon on the Mount turns everything on its head. His declaration, “you must not be like the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:5), is a direct confrontation to my every natural proclivity. I want people to think the best of me. Is that so wrong? I want to be the sort of guy others can look up to and emulate, which is great. But I quickly slip into a pursuit of reputation, rather than a pursuit of righteousness. I begin to store up treasures on earth. And before I know it, the moths have come, and the rust eats away at my storehouse.
Pride can make much even of humility. It can turn even fasting and prayer into pomp and show. Greed goes out dressed as generosity. Meaningless babble goes out dressed as prayer. And the weight of hypocrisy begins to drag us down.
Of course, the Sermon on the Mount isn’t chiefly about hypocrisy. It is about the kingdom of God. Hypocrisy is our way of looking like we’re walking in step with the kingdom. We think it might be easier to pretend, to turn a blind eye to the pet sins, to push aside the really difficult parts. We like the idea of dressing in the robes of righteousness, but we don’t want it deep down in our bones. We don’t want it to trouble our habits, to muddle with our comforts, to mess with our bank accounts. We tell ourselves we can serve two masters.
I wrestle daily with how to confront the hypocritical leanings of my heart. The old carnal man sticks too close for comfort, and I keep tripping over him. Christ’s remedy is simple.
Ask, and it will be given.
Seek, and you will find.
Knock, and the door will be opened.
Ask, for your Father in heaven gives you the very bread of life. Seek, because He first sought you. Knock, because He Himself is the door. Do not seek for bread that does not satisfy, or water that does not quench, but seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided.
Written by Caleb Faires