Strong In The Face Of Hypocrisy 1 — The Danger Within
Updated: Apr 5, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (Luke 12:1-3)
When a large crowd gathered around Jesus, he turned aside to his disciples and warned them to “be on your guard against” the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. This was because where crowds gathered, the Pharisees appeared.
The Pharisees were always keen to impress the crowd. They liked to walk around, dressed in their most pious clothes. And they loved “the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces” (Luke 11:43). Since Jesus was popular and respected as a teacher, they certainly desired an opportunity to gain “one-up” over Jesus in front of the crowd. It is not surprising then that they loved debating with Jesus in the presence of the masses.
Jesus compared the Pharisee’s hypocrisy with “yeast”. This was a very apt description, because like yeast, it only takes a little bit of hypocrisy to affect a mass. It spreads and swells up, and changes the nature of the bread/people. The disciples needed to be careful of hypocrisy in two ways. Firstly, the Pharisees’ hypocrisy posed a real physical danger to them. Not only did the Pharisees oppose Jesus, they later stirred up the masses to turn against Jesus too (Matthew 27:20-26). Secondly, if the disciples were not careful, they too could become hypocrites.
Jesus’ warning is just as applicable to us today.
A Lurking Danger
There will always be hypocrites around us. Like Jesus, we will be “magnets” for hypocrites.
When we are Christlike, people will be drawn to us, and hypocrites hate that. When we are loving, we serve others altruistically, and hypocrites doubt that. They are so devoid of goodness that they can’t believe in godliness.
Just because they are incapable of genuine goodness, they doubt the same in others. They view our godliness as ploys to deceive others and perhaps even imagine us to be bigger hypocrites than they are. We may find it hard to sympathise with hypocrites, but they are indeed in a pitiable state. It’s so sad when others love them and they can’t believe it. It’s depressing to see the world through eyes that suspect all intentions and doubt all people. They will hurt people who genuinely care for them, and eventually lose them.
Hypocrites also view us as threats. Because we see through their hypocrisy and do not agree with their ways, they fear we may expose them. So they choose to attack us and they won’t stop there. They will manipulate and lie to turn others against us too. It would be naive to think that hypocrites will be nice to us just because we’ve been kind to others, and even to them.
Jesus has warned us about the lurking danger. It would be wise for us to take heed.
The Danger Within
The biggest menace we must be on our guard against is the danger within — that we may become hypocrites.
The Pharisees were well-versed in the Scriptures and very proud of it. Do we not share the same danger? We should all study deeper and gain greater insight into the Bible. “But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1b) Does our growing knowledge of the Word puff us up or help us become more loving like Jesus?
The Pharisees were pious and disciplined in following the Laws and traditions. We’ve built up our own traditions in church too — valuable guidelines, syllabi and programs to help our fellow brothers and sisters. Do we start to put more faith in our traditions than God’s Word? Over time, we've also become used to the lifestyle and routines of Christian living. Does the dutiful “ticking of boxes” lull us into a false sense of confidence? Do we pay more attention to trivial legalistic issues and forget the very heart of Christianity?
Many of us have been hurt by the people Jesus warned us about — the hypocrites. When we give selflessly only to have our motives doubted, and pour out our hearts only to have them stabbed, the pain often causes us to withdraw. However, we must never allow hypocrites to change how we behave as Christians. Jesus didn’t stop loving or believing in people just because he was attacked by hypocrites. We must never become hypocrites ourselves.
There will always be hypocrites around us, and we must be on our guard against them. But let’s be even more careful of the danger within.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry of the Central Christian Church. He describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.