Jesus called his opponents hypocrites, why can’t I do the same?
The people who got under Jesus’ skin were not the out-in-out sinners, but the “holy” folks. It was the Pharisees. They drew Jesus ire as they adamantly defended their love for God, while spewing envy, pride, greed, and self-importance.
I get it, Jesus. That’s who gets under my skin too.
My problem isn’t with sinners who know they are sinners. There was a kid in jail that I visited who had all sorts of problems. He was guilty of numerous crimes that would make your skin crawl, but I didn’t burn him with all of my memorized, “gotcha” Bible verses. We talked. He listened. I did too. He knew his crimes were bad. We prayed together. I’ve sat with addicts who have made a million promises to quit only to go back to their old ways. I have felt so bad for their situations. I didn’t rant about their terrible choices. They knew it. Same with the married couple who came to me confessing sinfulness on both sides. I felt sorrow. Compassion. Not anger. Not blood boiling indignation. Prayers of sincere confession were made.
My problem is with the sinners who don’t think they are sinners. When modern day Pharisees have blasted the church with vicious lies, started rumors, led revolts, and then these purveyors of putridness put some Christian-eze gobbledygook on Facebook—I want to throw up. It literally makes my stomach flip. That’s when my normally subdued psyche goes into overdrive. I want to jump on their social media timeline with all sorts of grievances. Like Jesus to the Pharisees, I want to call them snakes and white washed tombs or worse.
But I can’t do it.
I can’t because Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” Jesus also said, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” I’m not perfect. No stone throwing from me. I’ve been hypocritical. I’ve displayed too much passive aggression and unleased unholy arrogance. I’ve posted things out of hurt, envy and pride. I’ve got a list of sins, shortcomings and flat-out wrongs in my past. Most generally, I’ve tried to ask for forgiveness when I could. But there may be those I’ve offended (that I didn’t know I’ve offended) who see a social media post of mine and their stomach flips. I wonder if they feel about me, the way I feel about the people that have wronged me?
Jesus could call out the hypocrites because he was never hypocritical. Not even once. I don’t have that same record. Neither do you.
My prayer is not “Lord blast my enemies,” but rather: “Lord, forgive me and help me to forgive others. Let my first response to an offending social media post not be figurative rock throwing toward the author but a heartfelt prayer on their behalf and confession of my own similar behavior. If there is any unfinished business with you or with anyone else, help me to quickly say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
Jesus called his opponents hypocrites, why can’t I do the same? I’m not Jesus but my desire is to be more and more like Him every day.