Proverbs 23 5-23-20

“Hypocrite” literally means, “two faces.” In church, it’s when we have our “worship face” and then our “daily face.” Are they different? If they are, then we are hypocrites.

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.

The ninth commandment is that we shall not give false testimony against our neighbor (Exodus 20:16). In other words, don’t lie. From this verse, we can extrapolate various kinds of falsehood: Dishonest weights and measurements, price gouging at the temple for acceptable sacrifices, and moving ancient boundary stones.

To say we love God and then treat people with disrespect
is being hypocritical.

Solomon warned people to not take advantage of the widow, the fatherless and the foreigner (Proverbs 22:22-23. In fact, God Himself warned the people not to do it Exodus 22:22, Isaiah 56:3-7). It has to do with bearing the name of God. We are to be like Him. He is kind and compassionate, and commands His  “bearers” to be kind and compassionate, too. When people cheat the needy and helpless in any way, God takes it personally.

Want to see a good example? Let’s go to Matthew 15:1-10, 17-20.

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]

Jesus sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t He? All they did was ask a simple question. Ah, but it wasn’t so simple! Jeremiah spells it out in 17:26-27 concerning making sacrifices and then not keeping the Sabbath (doing business as usual), and 33:20 concerning making sacrifices to the LORD and then turning around and offering sacrifices to Baal (19:4-5). They were hypocrites. Jesus was dealing with an age-old problem, one that their ancestors did and now they were doing.

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Jesus was defining God’s character to them by using contrast. He was sharing what is naturally in a person’s heart. Jesus is not interested so much in ceremonial homage, but in heart worship through obedience. In fact, He wants relationship. It’s why Jesus came! Look at it like this:

God created first the tabernacle (mobile)
and then the temple (stationary)
for people to come to God.

At just the right time in history
(truly a miracle in itself),
Jesus came so that God could come to us.

The Pharisees needed to get beyond their own self-righteousness through ceremony and obedience to the law and get to trusting Jesus for forgiveness of sin and for grace. Some did, too! There is Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimethea, and many others in the priesthood (Acts 6:7).

Let’s be about learning our heavenly Father’s character and adopting it as our own. The Holy Spirit is all over a decision like this! We begin by reading His Word. I heard a testimony on “I Met Messiah.com” that said something to this effect, “I don’t hear God so much when I am reading as I do between my readings. I ask Him a question, then I read. After I’ve read and I go about my day, He calls to mind what I’ve read at just the right time for me to apply it, or I realize what a passage means as I think about it over time. It’s amazing!” Try it; you’ll like it.

Abba, getting those “aha!” moments where I understand what I’ve been reading, or You pop into my head wisdom and discernment makes my day–my life! I live for those moments because I sense they are from You. May I be open to Your speaking to me and place myself in the best position I can to hear you, which is being discerning and obedient. I want to learn all I can of You, LORD. Teach me. Amen.

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