Jesus uses these words seven times in Matthew 23 as he admonishes the religious leaders. I sanctimoniously thought how evil those men were until I realized that I may be like them. How much of a hypocrite can I be and still be considered good?
Don’t get me wrong. I do not purposely try to be a hypocrite. It just happens. Can you relate? I say I am going to do something but forget I made the commitment. This happened to me Sunday. I forgot to prepare a luncheon signup sheet. I said I would do it a couple of weeks ago. Even though I had time to do it right after saying I would, I decided to walk the dog or do some other such activity. Then my promise was forgotten as life activities became more pressing. My mind focused on a planned visit from my niece and her family coming in from out of state. The result is that I broke my word.
This is but one example of what too often happens. I have good intentions, I get sidetracked, and I do not do what I say I will. I can make excuses, but I know the truth. I did not complete the task in a timely fashion. It would be better for me not to make the commitment at all. I am no better than the Pharisees who looked good on the outside but harbored sin on the inside. My external speech must match the internal motivations. Good intentions are not good enough.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self- indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Matthew 23:25-26