“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Matthew 6:5
The college me would call the current me a hypocrite. That’s what I did back then. Anyone claiming to be a Christian automatically earned that prestigious title. I could judge, after all, because I sat in my lofty seat in the college library and weighed such grave matters in my head and in my poetry. My pencil could strike down any Christ-follower with a witty rhyme. I knew they were all fake.
So, I had a lot to learn about love. But I was right about the hypocrisy thing. The current me is, in fact, a hypocrite.
Jesus warned us not to be like the hypocrites, those who put on a show but don’t let the show touch their hearts. And when I’m honest, that’s exactly what I do sometimes. My worship becomes a series of movements, a tentative toe-tap into the spiritual waters. All the while, my mind has drifted off to my bank account, my schedule, and my Instagram feed.
That type of worship isn’t worship. It’s a show put on for my own gratification, one that makes me feel better about doing the “Christian thing.” In those moments, I’m exactly what my college self accused me of.
Thankfully, Jesus warned me about all this ahead of time. When my body and mind get out of sync, when my devotion becomes a demonstration, His warnings inevitably hit me in the chin. Matthew 6 cues up on my audio Bible, His admonitions pop up on someone’s blog, or I just catch myself in the act. That’s when I see just how much I’m simply going through the motions.
Unlike my college self, who judged to feel superior, God unmasks hypocrisy because He wants me to get real. His gentle (and not-so-gentle) nudges snap me out of my one-man show.