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Hypocrisy: a big obstacle to faith

October 17, 2023

Daily Scripture

Matthew 7:1-5

1 “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. 3 Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? 5 You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus’ “splinters and logs” parable clearly dealt with hypocrisy. In Greek, the word meant “to act, to play a part.” Christian author Jim White wrote: “We must stop presenting ourselves as the message and begin presenting Jesus as the message. There will be disappointment with Christians as long as there are imperfect people. Since all Christians are imperfect, there will always be disappointment.” * Judging others’ flaws while excusing our own makes Jesus seem a partner in hypocrisy.

  • Jesus’ vivid imagery spoke to too many people in his day (as well as ours) (cf. Matthew 23:1-7). Here is someone who claims to be righteous, with a log in their eye, trying to remove a splinter from someone else’s eye! What types of emotional “payoff” incline most of us to criticize others rather than face our own challenges? What spiritual truths, if any, have you found particularly helpful in allowing you to resist those inner forces?
  • Has someone ever judgmentally tried to remove a “speck” from your “eye?” How did the experience affect your desire to try to live up to what they claimed was God’s standard for your life? Has anyone ever graciously, compassionately offered you an insight into yourself while honestly admitting their own struggles and issues? If so, how did that experience differ from having someone judge and condemn you?

Lord Jesus, help me live authentically in your love and grace, letting go of my need to try to make myself look better than I am. Teach me to own my struggles, claim your power to transform me and share that with others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Morgan Dynes

Morgan Dynes

Morgan Dynes works with Resurrection’s Online Team, alongside Pastor Ashley Morgan Kirk. She completed her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in May 2023, where she studied for her future as a United Methodist Elder. She’s originally from Baton Rouge, LA and attended Louisiana State University (LSU) for Communications and Business until moving to Durham, NC. She’s loved her time at Resurrection and especially loves Kansas City.

I’ve been training and studying to be a UMC pastor for more than 10 years now. Every time I read Jesus’ parables that are directed to hold a mirror to the religious leaders’ hypocrisy, I take that deeply to heart. I don’t want to be a hypocrite while doing the work of God! Even more, I don’t want to be a hypocrite while being a Christian with a Gospel of love and grace. So, when I hear Jesus saying things like the log and splinter parable, I immediately listen for how I can do what Jesus is asking of me. While I wish I were perfect (which Jim White explains isn’t possible), I’ll always remember a moment where I did exactly what Jesus said not to. I judged someone’s speck (well… what I thought was a speck) without realizing my own log. 

I once visited someone in the hospital as they were recovering from surgery. I had been through some seminary classes and felt like I was “all-knowing” at that point. Well, there was my first mistake. My second came when I read Scripture. Pastors and lay people, when visiting someone, often read Scripture. I asked what passage they’d like to hear, and they said, “Psalm 23.” In my heart, I rolled my eyes–Psalm 23 is such a common scripture. As they say about music, I felt it was “over played.” However, I still read it. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want…” When I finished and looked up from the Bible, the person was crying. I was taken aback. Surely, these classic words wouldn’t elicit crying, I thought. When I asked what the tears meant, the person explained that this Psalm was their mom’s favorite passage, and she had recently passed.

I felt as if the wind was knocked out of me. What a hypocrite I was! Psalm 23 might be “over played,” but for good reason. It touches the soul in an unexplainable way, connects us to our loved ones, inspires us in darkness, and assures us of God’s promise of peace and love. It’s a special passage that deepens spirituality inexplicably, and I, a religious leader, couldn’t see that until I took the log of judgement and inflated self-esteem out of my eyes. Then I was able to see the beauty of Scripture and spirituality as the Psalm touched someone more deeply than words. We must not judge others but meet them where they are, no matter what’s in their eyes. Then we can truly experience the kingdom of God that Jesus talked about in all his parables. 

Now, I often use Psalm 23 when I do hospital and care visits. I even used it in a small group last week as a way to meditate and connect with our spirituality. It’s one of my favorite Psalms, one of my favorite Bible passages, because of this visit. In the same vein, this week I hope you can truly hear the message of Christ and remove a log out of your eye to see the beauty in God and the people around you.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Jim White in Kinnaman and Lyons, unChristian. Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2007, p. 66.